It wasn't hamburger wrapped in green saran wrap that police found during a raid of Boston restaurant Tuesday— it was fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid that's been linked to a rising number of overdose deaths in Massachusetts and across the country.
During a raid of D’Raffa Restaurant in Charlestown, Boston and State Police recovered approximately 520 grams of a white powder that tested positive for fentanyl behind a freezer in the restaurant’s basement. Suffolk County District Attormey Dan Conley called it a "major" drug seizure.
In a shelving unit underneath the cash register behind the counter, they recovered four plastic bags: one containing seven smaller bags of what appeared to be powder cocaine; one containing 10 smaller bags of what appeared to be heroin; and two containing a total of 22 smaller bags of what appeared to be crack cocaine.
D'Raffa Restaurant was targeted for its role in trafficking fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and other drugs in the Boston area during a lengthy investigation by a joint Boston and State police task force.
“When overdoses claim three times more lives than gun violence and car crashes combined, we can’t pretend that drug trafficking is a victimless crime,” Conley said. “It goes hand in hand with violence, death, and despair. This investigation and seizure saved lives.
Three people were held on high bail and two more will be arraigned tomorrow in connection with the bust: Rosselys Esthefanie Pimental-Melo, Matea Sanchez, Juan Guerrero-Tejeda, Raphael Pimental and Ada Meija-Meija, all of Boston. All are facing drug trafficking and distribution charges.
Massachusetts has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis sweeping the country, fueled in large part by an increase in availability of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the Department of Public Health said earlier this year in a report on overdose deaths.
Although the numbers are still coming in, DPH estimates 2016 was the deadliest year on record in Massachusetts for opioid overdoses, with 1,465 confirmed deaths and another 469 to 562 suspected – that’s a 320 percent increase from a decade ago.