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176 fentanyl pills found hidden in Easter eggs during traffic stop

Alabama authorities found the illicit pills alongside synthetic cannabis in the eggs, which were inside a 29-year-old's car.
176 fentanyl pills found hidden in Easter eggs during traffic stop
Posted at 7:30 PM, Apr 04, 2024

It wasn't Easter anymore, but Alabama authorities conducting a traffic stop Monday still found a surprise inside two plastic eggs in a driver's car.

Drug agents with the Colbert County Drug Task Force were in Tuscumbia, about 64 miles west of Huntsville, on April 1 when they stopped Jamarious Dequan Qualls at around 11:45 a.m., the county sheriff's department said on Facebook

After the 29-year-old permitted them to search his vehicle, investigators discovered two plastic containers — one orange egg and another gold, per a photo the sheriff's department posted — holding 176 fentanyl pills and a bag of 1 oz of "spice" synthetic cannabis.

Qualls, who agents determined had misdemeanor warrants out for his arrest in a different city, was taken into custody and charged with trafficking illegal drugs and unlawful possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, per county records. He's being held on a $150,000 bond, Colbert County deputies said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to relieve pain in controlled, medical settings. But in recent years, it's become more known for being illicitly manufactured and sold, often being mixed into other illegal drugs to increase their potency or pressed into pills to appear like a real prescription opioid, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. 

But even though some dealers are intentionally contaminating their other drugs with fentanyl to reduce their costs, the DEA says the process is "not an exact science," meaning a dose that would increase potency for one person may be enough to kill another person. 

SEE MORE: How a 5-year-old ingested fentanyl in her kindergarten classroom

And while it's unclear how much fentanyl was in the pills Qualls had in his vehicle, the DEA says 42% of pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 mg, which can be a lethal dose depending on a person's size and tolerance. However, the agency says it's seen pills ranging anywhere from .02 mg to 5.1 mg per tablet.

Overall, the DEA's laboratory testing has indicated 7 out of every 10 pills it has seized have contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. If that tracks with Qualls' stash, more than 123 of the pills would have contained a lethal dose.

The other drug in Qualls' car, "spice," is a synthetic cannabinoid manufactured with chemicals similar to those found in a cannabis plant, though the two often affect a person differently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says. But some people have reported using spice instead because it's either cheaper, more accessible or it's supposedly less likely to be detected in a routine urine drug screening, the NIDA says.

But consistent use of spice also has its share of health effects, including elevated heart rate and blood pressure, seizure, hallucinations, agitation, numbness and tingling, per the DEA.

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