Traffic stop leads to seizure of enough fentanyl to kill nearly 40k people

National News

AVON PARK, Fla. (WFLA) — A traffic stop in Avon Park Sunday led to one of the largest drug busts in recent memory for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office as deputies seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly 40,000 people.

Deputy Seth Abeln pulled over a Ford Focus on North Central Avenue around 7:40 p.m. after noticing a tail light was out. After Abeln stopped the vehicle, K-9 Gentry was deployed to do a sniff of the car.

Gentry tipped the deputy off to possible drugs, and the vehicle was searched.

The search turned up a “staggering” amount of narcotics:

  • 554 grams of heroin
  • 450 grams of cocaine
  • 99.6 grams of fentanyl
  • 975 oxycodone pills
  • 107 Xanax pills
  • 90 vape pens with liquid THC

The street value of the drugs confiscated totaled $120,000. The sheriff’s office is calling it one of the largest drug seizures for their department in recent memory.

The driver of the vehicle, 40-year-old Ruben Ramirez-Rivera, was arrested and charged with:

  • trafficking cocaine
  • trafficking heroin
  • trafficking oxycodone
  • trafficking a controlled substance 
  • possession of opium or a derivative (fentanyl) with intent to sell/deliver
  • possession of a Schedule III or IV drug with intent to sell/deliver
  • possession of heroin with intent to sell/deliver
  • possession of cocaine with intent to sell/deliver
  • felony possession of marijuana
  • possession of a weapon during commission of a first-degree felony
  • possession of drug equipment

Rivera is being held without bond at the Highlands County Jail.

“I’m very proud of the work done by the deputies involved in this arrest,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “To take this amount of drugs off the street is a huge accomplishment, and our county is safer because of it.”


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