‘This was a seriously deadly load’: Traffic stop leads to major drug bust on I-40, officials say

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A traffic stop led to a major drug bust on Interstate 40, officials said.

In a press release, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday, agents stopped a 2010 Mercedes on I-40 in Shelby County, near the Fayette County line, because of the tint on the windows.

Two men from California were inside the Mercedes.

After they questioned them, the DA’s office said the agents became suspicious. They brought out a certified narcotics detection dog, Harper. Officials said the canine caught sent of an odor coming from the vehicle.

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Officers searched the car and found a “natural void” that was converted into a compartment to transport contraband.

Agents with the West Tennessee Drug Task Force seized five pounds of fentanyl, one pound of black tar heroin and approximately 2,500 unidentified pills believed to be Oxycodone, officials said.

“It is enough to kill every person in Shelby County, man, woman and child to overdose 9 times over,” said West Tennessee Drug Task Force Director Johnie Carter

Carter said he was ecstatic at first, until he realized the haul also included 2500 pills believed to be oxycodone or a possible mixture of oxy and fentanyl. Those pills could have killed as well.

“I understand the process of addiction. One of the things I struggle to get around is why somebody would try something like that in the first place,” said Carter.

One month ago, the Shelby County Health Department reported a spike in the number of drug overdose cases that caused the deaths of 68 people.

Agents are still investigating where the drugs confiscated Thursday were manufactured.

“Based on the type of drug that it is we assume that they are coming out of Mexico,” Carter said.

Carter said had agents not stopped the car, they believe it was headed to Nashville.

“If you were to put a pencil to the numbers for this seizure, it would be absolutely terrifying,” said Carter. “Less than a quarter of a milligram of fentanyl could kill the average person, and the amount seized here is enough for every person in Shelby County to overdose more than nine times over. This was a seriously deadly load.”

The California men were identified as Jovanni Viera, 47, and Luis Santillan Cruz, 28.

They were arrested and are in the Shelby County Jail on $1 million bonds each.