HENRY COUNTY, Ind. – A traffic stop in Henry County showed law enforcement officials once again that much more is passing through the "Crossroads of America" than vacationing families.
Monday afternoon a member of the multi-agency PACE team, David Glover of the Richmond Police Department, stopped a man driving eastbound on I-70 around 1:20 p.m.
After seeing a meth pipe in the front of the car, a Hancock County sheriff's deputy searched the car and found nearly five pounds of fentanyl in the trunk and under the back seat.
Gustavo Romero, 41, of Wildomar, California was arrested and taken into federal custody.
While that’s a victory, a Captain Jeff Rasche with the Hancock County Sheriff's Department tells me it only makes a dent in the deadly problem.
Rasche says thousands of pounds of fentanyl are likely passing through Indianapolis interstates on the way to users across America.
"Indianapolis being the Crossroads of America is kind of the area where a lot of this is being trafficked through and distributed throughout the Midwest, Northeast and along the east coast," says Rasche.
Incredibly, Rasche says mules like Romero don't even know they're trafficking heroin. That, he says, creates a greater danger for both drug users and law enforcement dealing with narcotics.
"The street buyer that’s going to put a needle and stick it into his arm, he thinks he’s shooting up heroin and quite frankly he could be shooting up straight up fentanyl, which is probably going to be an instant death," says Rasche.
Law enforcement often don't know whether the well-wrapped packages they're unwrapping for field testing are heroin or fentanyl either.
"When it comes to the fentanyl, because of the strength and the potency of it, and it is a fine powder, it can become airborne and so forth," says Rasche.
"Whenever we’re going to be dealing with a substance, a look-alike substance that could be fentanyl, you’re talking protective breathing apparatuses that we can use from the fire department, or possibly even protective clothing."
Rasche says the frequency with which they're arresting people with fentanyl leads him to believe that spikes in overdoses as seen in Jennings County and Cincinnati on Tuesday and Wednesday are just the beginning.
"The unknown of what they’re going to stick in their arms is certainly going to lead to probably more deaths before it gets better," says Rasche.