By Kevin Deutsch
Police discovered crack cocaine mixed with the dangerous opioid fentanyl during a recent traffic stop in Coral Springs – the latest indication of the drug’s impact in North Broward, according to police records.
Vanessa Verdi, 23, of Coral Springs, was stopped by police while driving a dark gray Chevy Impala with a single working headlight on West Sample Road on January 12, leading to the seizure of the coke containing fentanyl, according to an affidavit of arrest. filed by Coral Springs police.
When Verdi parked the car in the Coral Springs Diner parking lot, a police officer observed a large cloud of marijuana smoke billowing from the Impala, which Verdi’s 14-year-old sister was also driving, according to the archives.
Inside the car, officers found a still-burning marijuana joint, a bag of marijuana and, in the center console of the car, a bag containing a crack stone, the documents said.
Verdi allegedly told police the cocaine – which later tested positive for fentanyl – belonged to her ex-boyfriend, records show.
Verdi was driving with a suspended license due to his non-payment of traffic tickets, according to police. She is currently free on $2,200 bond, records show.
Fentanyl is appearing more frequently in local supplies of cocaine, heroin and street pills, part of a nationwide trend of illicit drug manufacturers and dealers mixing their product with the potentially deadly synthetic opioid.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Doctors prescribe the pharmaceutical fentanyl to treat severe pain, especially after surgery and advanced cancer.
However, according to the CDC, the most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is distributed in illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often added to other drugs due to its extreme potency, making drugs cheaper, more potent, more addictive, and more dangerous.
Those who sell fentanyl in fatal overdose cases have been charged with murder in several cases in the United States, including one in Coral Springs.
In May 2021, 26-year-old Salomon Jules Theoc was charged with first-degree murder in the September 2020 overdose death of Callie Harper in Coral Springs.
Theoc allegedly sold Harper fentanyl heroin outside Walmart on Turtle Creek Drive on Sept. 16, and the drugs killed her, Coral Springs police say.
Theoc pleaded not guilty. He is being held without bail pending trial.
“This investigation sends a message to all drug traffickers that overdose investigations in the City of Coral Springs will not be treated simply as the death of a person but treated as a criminal investigation,” the police department said. in a statement prepared after Theoc’s arrest. “In this case, Coral Springs detectives can identify the dealers and link the distribution of the narcotics to a person’s death; we will work with the state’s attorney’s office in an effort to file criminal charges. »
Guns also played a role in local fentanyl cases, records show.
In September 2021, 33-year-old Michael Kareem Roberts was arrested for unlawfully carrying a firearm in Coral Springs after police discovered he had an outstanding warrant for possession of fentanyl, according to court documents.
The warrant stemmed from an incident in Tamarac in which Roberts allegedly sold several opioid Percocet pills to an undercover detective from the Broward Sheriff’s Office in the 5300 block of North State Road 7, records show. Tests then detected the presence of fentanyl in the drugs, authorities said.
Roberts has pleaded not guilty to a fentanyl possession charge and is free on $1,000 bond, records show.
In October 2021, another fentanyl-related investigation led to the arrest of 42-year-old Frederick Bienaime of Tamarac on charges stemming from a warrant for trafficking fentanyl from a residence in Lauderhill, according to court records.
Bienaime, currently out on bail, faces several other drug charges, including delivery of fentanyl and heroin, trafficking in heroin and oxycodone, and possession of methamphetamine and cocaine, records show. He pleaded not guilty.
In his January message to residents, Coral Springs Police Chief Clyde Parry highlighted the national scourge of fentanyl overdose deaths.
“Fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death among adults ages 18 to 45, according to an analysis of U.S. government data,” Parry wrote. “There were 64,178 fentanyl overdose deaths between April 2019 and April 2021. More adults between the ages of 18 and 45 died from fentanyl overdoses in 2020 than any other leading cause of death, including COVID-19 , road accidents, cancer and suicide.
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Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime reporter and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on the staff of the Miami Herald, New York Daily News and Palm Beach Post.