MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thanks to a multi-agency investigation, just over 103 pounds of fentanyl-laced drugs were taken off the streets and two Californians were arrested in Murfreesboro last weekend.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), 21-year-old Kevin Bucio-Arredondo and 20-year-old Leslie Heredia were taken into custody in Murfreesboro after being accused of transporting a large quantity of hard drugs linked to a Mexican cartel.
The TBI said Bucio-Arredondo and Heredia were booked into the Rutherford County Jail for possession of Schedule II drugs for resale, as well as money laundering.
Dr. Stephen Morris teaches political science and international relations at Middle Tennessee State University. He has written about on corruption, drug trafficking and violence in Mexico from the cartel.
“The heads of these cartels actually create a lot of turf battles, turf wars, and these splinter groups that fight one another,” Morris said. “It seems to breed more violence.”
The TBI believes the drugs, which were seized on Saturday, Feb. 4, were being sent to Tennessee from California. Morris said that is not common, adding that the majority of drugs brought to the Volunteer State are from Atlanta or Chicago.
“It would seem odd to me that it would come to California, unless it’s people in the United States and not so much linked to the Mexican cartel…But it seems like an odd supply chain, California to Nashville,” Morris explained.
According to addiction counselors, the opioid crisis remains constant, but fentanyl continues to have a tighter grip on the country.
“We are seeing a spike at the moment,” said Patrick Custer, a spokesperson for Promises Behavioral Health. “We have a facility — The Ranch Tennessee, just outside of Nashville — that has seen a huge influx of clients coming in for treatment for addiction.”
According to Custer, buying drugs online has become popular, so he expects people to continue to use that route instead of a traditional dealer.
Meanwhile, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced on Thursday, Feb. 9 that he joined attorneys general in 21 other states to asking President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, hoping this will free up resources to deal with the opioid crisis.