Law enforcement seized a huge shipment of narcotics in Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas and arrested 39 defendants for an alleged conspiracy to distribute large amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine in Hampton Roads, according to a release by the United States Department of Justice on Aug. 29.

“This massive interdiction of narcotics, which included enough fentanyl to kill over 14 million people, is proof positive of the power and strength of federal, state, and local law enforcement collaboration,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in the release.

The massive arrest operation was carried out by 120 officers from 30 law enforcement agencies over three days and led to the seizure of 24 firearms, 30 kilograms of fentanyl, 30 kilograms of heroin, 5 kilograms of cocaine, and over $700,000 in cash.

“This operation, through its seizure of scores of kilograms of illicit narcotics, saved lives in the Eastern District and elsewhere,” said Terwilliger.

He said the alleged drug trafficking ring is an example of fentanyl coming to the United States from China.

“The illicit fentanyl that’s coming in, the vast majority is from China and a lot of it is coming in through the mails,” Terwilliger said at a press conference.

The indictment (pdf) mentions the case of a suspect in Virginia ordering fentanyl from a vendor in Shanghai and receiving it at his residence through a mail by the United States Postal Service.

“The last thing we want is for the US Postal Service to become the nation’s largest drug dealer and there are people way above my pay grade working on that, but absolutely it’s about putting pressure on the Chinese,” Terwilliger said.

According to the indictment, the “defendants and unindicted co-conspirators” would purchase and receive narcotics from suppliers in Mexico, California, and New York and arranged hidden compartments in privately owned vehicles, couriers, and semi-trailers, trucks, and recreational vehicles to transport them.

The Department of Justice said the defendants used various encrypted social media apps like Facetime and Whatsapp to carry out their daily operations, which included negotiating the price and fixing locations for the sale and purchase of narcotics.

“The DEA will continue to prioritize operations like this one, which target the criminal organizations that bring dangerous drugs and violence into our communities here in Virginia,” said Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division.

The operation was called “Cookout” and the case was investigated by a federal multi-jurisdictional task force called the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

“The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply,” said the Department of Justice.

CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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