PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Arizona woman is accused of trafficking thousands of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and pounds of heroin through Salem after court documents and officials say a Santa Muerte statue tipped off an Oregon State Police trooper about the illicit stash.
Nancy Garcia, 47, of Yuma County, Arizona is facing a charge for possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Oregon, Garcia was pulled over by an Oregon State Police trooper while traveling north on Interstate 5 on Monday. The trooper reported seeing a statue of Santa Muerte, according to court documents.
The trooper “recognized the statue as something some people in the drug trafficking world recognize as a saint, and that they believe Santa Muerte, and prayers to Santa Muerte, help protect people involved in distributing controlled substances,” according to federal affidavit court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News.
Garcia initially told the trooper she was heading to Seattle but later claimed she was planning to spend a week in Portland, court documents stated.
Authorities say a search of the vehicle led to the discovery of 10 pounds of counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl and 5.5 pounds of bulk heroin stashed behind the driver’s seat.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 1 kilogram of fentanyl could kill 500,000 people. That means the fentanyl seized during this traffic stop is enough to kill more than 2.2 million people.
Garcia was subsequently arrested. She appeared in court Wednesday and was ordered to remain detained while awaiting other court proceedings. Her next court date is February 17, 2023.