Sheriff: 'One of the largest seizures in the state'

NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- Three people were arrested Wednesday after New Hanover County Sheriff's Office deputies seized nearly 13 pounds of fentanyl at a Wilmington home, Sheriff Ed McMahon said Friday.

"As far as we can tell, this is one of the largest seizures in the state," McMahon said at a press conference Friday morning.

The sheriff's office said the drugs had an estimated street value of more than $2 million.

William McIntire, Charles Batts and Wanda Moore were each charged with numerous drug crimes, including possession, trafficking and conspiring to sell narcotics after an investigation that McMahon said took several months and culminated in a raid at a home at 1408 Kornegay Ave.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent painkiller that experts have said is far more powerful than either opioids like oxycodone or narcotics like heroin.

"That's enough fentanyl to kill everyone on the East Coast," Sheriff's Lt. Jerry Brewer said while gesturing to several large containers -- including one that formerly held baby formula -- filled with fentanyl.

McMahon said many dealers have switched from dealing heroin to more packages of fentanyl, which Brewer said is far cheaper and easier to obtain from distributors than heroin.

"We believe that's one of the main reasons we're having a lot of these people overdosing and dying from this stuff," McMahon said.

Brewer said the seizure meant keeping a "massive" amount of fentanyl off the streets.

"The mixture of fentanyl seized could produce hundreds of thousands of bags of potential poison," Brewer said in an email after the press conference.

Reporter Tim Buckland can be reached at 910-343-2217 or Tim.Buckland@StarNewsOnline.com.

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