Massive $3.6 Million 'Tranq,' Fentanyl Operation Busted In Montco: DA

NORRISTOWN, PA — A massive drug bust in Montgomery County resulted in about $3.6 million in lethal drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, and “tranq,” being removed from the streets, county officials announced Friday morning.

Two Philadelphia men, Richard Nunez, 45, and Javier Cornelio Fabian, 43, were arrested and charged with running the operation, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office said.

The sting brought in 366,000 doses of heroin, fentanyl, and Xylazine, which goes by the street name of tranq. The drugs, which were being packaged for retail on the street, were taken by search warrants executed at several residences in Montgomery County and Philadelphia, including a large stash house on the 2700 block of Eldridge Street in Philly.

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“Fentanyl is responsible for the vast majority of drug poisonings in our region and
across the nation at large, and its dangerous effects are exacerbated all the more when
mixed with other dangerous drugs such as Xylazine,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Thomas Hodnett said.

The joint investigation, which was run by the DEA, state police, county detectives, and Upper Merion authorities, began as an undercover operation. A Montgomery County detective infiltrated the organization and eventually was able to purchase several bags of fentanyl and tranq from Fabian, police said.

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Authorities then tracked Fabian and Nunez as they plotted to sell 8.8 pounds of uncut heroin in the King of Prussia Mall area on Jan. 23, officials said. Police arrested Fabian in King of Prussia on his way to the meetup site, and arrested Nunez at the same in Philadelphia.

Authorities added that Nunez and Fabian were also selling something called “red heroin,” a drug tainted with food dye. They’re running further laboratory tests to determine its exact nature.

Officials warned that drug operations are becoming more and more complex.

“There are always new twists with how these street drugs are marketed,” Jeremiah Daley, executive director of the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), said in a statement. “Unusual coloring—from adulteration, contamination or the intentional addition of a dye like food coloring—is common among illicit street drug suppliers seeking to differentiate their product from another source’s drugs.”

Nunez was denied bail due to a flight risk, while Fabian’s bail was set at $2 million. Both were booked at Montgomery County Correctional Facility and preliminary hearings will be held on March 11.

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