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4 Boston residents indicted, charged with distributing deadly fentanyl

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Four Bostonians have been federally indicted on charges of trafficking huge levels of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid rated by the CDC as 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Angel Morales, 51, of Roslindale; Quenty Ogando, 44, of Dorchester; Erika Prado, 31, of Hyde Park; and Rahelin Reynoso, 33, of Dorchester, were indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl. Morales faces another count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl.

Opioid-use contributes to the death of roughly 136 Americans every day, and an estimated 2,290 Massachusetts residents lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses last year, according to a state Department of Public Health report issued in June. That’s an 8.8% increase over the year before, meaning that an additional 185 residents lost their lives to the scourge.

According to the indictment, this quartet of suspected pushers at least didn’t sell the killer synthetic to their neighbors. Instead, Morales allegedly hit up local post offices and Fedex facilities throughout the metro area to mail more than 150 packages containing fentanyl.

And in just one of those shipments, the indictment alleges, Morales mailed more than 850 grams of counterfeit pills containing the drug. A search of a Mattapan apartment the group allegedly used as a stash turned out more than 22 kilograms of pills and another 22 kilos of powder with the drug. But the place was more than a stash, as the feds allege they also kept three industrial-grade pill presses to make more on site.

A photo released by the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Lab back in 2016 showed the stark dangers of the synthetic drug. Two pill bottles contained heroin and fentanyl side by side. The heroin bottle contained a recognizable level of powder at 30 milligrams, whereas the fentanyl bottle had barely a dusting at 3 milligrams. Both amounts had an equal chance of killing an average-sized adult male.

There are 1,000 milligrams in a gram, meaning that just the 400 gram threshold that elevates this alleged trafficking operation to a possible life sentence in prison, has the potential to kill well more than 133,000 people if any should find more than a tiny dusting of the stuff in their heroin or cocaine dose.

And that could be at the low end, as a review of the literature on dosing by the organization Harm Reduction Ohio found that a possible 150 micrograms — a microgram is a millionth of a gram — could put a user at “significant risk” of overdose and only 700 micrograms of the synthetic registers as “Death likely” on their scale.

With average street doses of heroin at one-tenth of a gram for heroin and one-quarter of a gram for cocaine, according to that group, certain death would come if the dose contains just 2% or 0.8% fentanyl respectively.

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