Deputies seize enough fentanyl to kill 40,000 people


AVON PARK — A traffic stop in Avon Park on Sunday led to one of the largest drug seizures in recent memory for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies confiscated enough fentanyl to kill nearly 40,000 people, as well as over a pound of heroin and nearly a pound of cocaine.

Around 7:40 p.m., Deputy Seth Abeln saw a blue Ford Focus on North Central Avenue that had a tag light out. After Abeln stopped the vehicle, Deputy Ben Jones and K-9 Gentry were called to do a free air sniff of the vehicle. Gentry indicated there were drugs in the car.

A search of the vehicle turned up a staggering amount of narcotics:

554 grams of heroin
450 grams of cocaine
99.6 grams of fentanyl
975 oxycodone pills
107 Xanax pills
90 vape pens with liquid THC

A dose of 2-3 milligrams of fentanyl is enough to be deadly, meaning there was enough of the drug to kill 40,000 people using 2.5 milligrams as a fatal dose. To put that in perspective, that would be enough to kill nearly 40 percent of the people in Highlands County.

The street value of the fentanyl is $15,000. Add that to the $20,000 of cocaine, $40,000 of oxycodone and $45,000 of heroin, and the total seizure is worth $120,000 on the street, not including the value of the vape pens.

There was also a loaded handgun inside the car. The driver, 40-year-old Ruben Ramirez-Rivera, was arrested and charged with:

trafficking cocaine
trafficking heroin
trafficking oxycodone
trafficking a controlled substance
possession of opium or a derivative (fentanyl) with intent to sell/deliver
possession of a Schedule III or IV drug with intent to sell/deliver
possession of heroin with intent to sell/deliver
possession of cocaine with intent to sell/deliver
felony possession of marijuana
possession of a weapon during commission of a first-degree felony
possession of drug equipment

Rivera is being held without bond at the Highlands County Jail.

“I’m very proud of the work done by the deputies involved in this arrest,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “To take this amount of drugs off the street is a huge accomplishment, and our county is safer because of it.”