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Man arrested with 10,000 fentanyl pills, Utah troopers say

Man arrested with 10,000 fentanyl pills, Utah troopers say

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SALT LAKE CITY — A man is facing federal charges after police found him in possession of an estimated 10,000 fentanyl pills, according to court documents.

Tonatiuh Tacuba Palacios, 28, from Mexico, was indicted in federal court on Dec. 19 on charges of heroin distribution and fentanyl distribution.

He was arrested Dec. 6 by Utah Highway Patrol troopers in Cedar City who stopped him on I-15 for having a windshield cracked in multiple places, obstructing the driver’s view, according to a police booking affidavit. After he was stopped, troopers learned Palacios did not have a valid driver’s license or car insurance.

A drug sniffing police K-9 was brought to the scene and “hit” on the rear area of the car, the affidavit states. Inside a panel where a speaker was supposed to go, investigators found more than 2 pounds of heroin and 2 pounds of pills marked with an “M,” the affidavit states.

“The way that the pills were packaged and current drug trends led us to believe the pills were likely fentanyl. For safety reasons, a field test was not done on the pills,” troopers wrote.

The drugs have an estimated street value of $500,000, according to UHP.

A recently unsealed search warrant further detailed the pills were marked with “M” and “30.”

“I know that pills with this color, shape and markings are normally ... oxycodone, but that it is very common for them to be counterfeit and actually contain fentanyl. Because of the extreme danger fentanyl presents, the pills were not field tested and will be delivered to the state crime lab for testing,” the investigator wrote in the warrant. “I estimated that there were approximately 10,000 pills total.”

Correction: In a previous version the headline incorrectly stated the value of the fentanyl pills. That has been corrected.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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