Phoenix, AZ — Arizona drug enforcement officials from Nogales, Arizona are on administrative leave after setting up a drug table at a Phoenix-area Flea Market.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Thursday their biggest fentanyl bust ever, saying they captured nearly 254 pounds of the deadly synthetic opioid from a load of Mexican produce heading into Arizona. The drug was found hidden Saturday morning inside a tractor-trailer after a scan during secondary inspection indicated something else was in the load, Nogales Port Director Michael Humphries said.
Apparently later that day, 3 officers took the contraband north to the hipster Itchy Flea Market where they set up a table to “educate visitors to the dangers of illegal drugs.” However, the officers made the unfortunate choice to make it look like they were selling the fentanyl and methamphetamine.
“The three officers in question made a terrible judgment error,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Officer Lou Tennant. “Their goal was to show the public how dangerous these drugs can be, not to resell them which is illegal.”
Several visitors to the flea market attempted to purchase several bags of fentanyl.
“I was thinking since the police were there, it was OK to buy some,” said Tempe resident Dale Rodriguez. “But when I asked them how much was a few ounces, they told me it was not for sale. I was like, ‘why are you here then?'”
According to Officer Tennant, nearly 50 market attendees asked the officers for a sale, and only “a handful” had any interest in drug education.
“That’s when the officers decided to call it quits for the day,” continued Tennant. “They just were not able to get their message out. Look, their hearts were in the right place, you know? It’s just that their heads weren’t.”
It wasn’t until hours later, after several media reports, that law enforcement leadership learned about the flea market event. By that time, the three officers had already returned the drugs to storage.