Couple charged with transporting $1.5M in fentanyl

$1.5 million in fentanyl, found stashed in a couple's SUV on the freeway in Otay Mesa (Photo: SDSO)

CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A woman and her boyfriend allegedly transporting $1.5 million worth of powdered fentanyl on an Otay Mesa freeway were charged Friday with transportation and possession of controlled substances for sale.

Marilu Escamilla, 24, and her passenger, 36-year-old Fernando Camargo, were pulled over for speeding in a 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor on westbound state Route 905 on Wednesday afternoon, according to sheriff’s officials.

After a service dog alerted deputies to the presence of possible contraband in the small SUV, they searched it and found more than 20 kilograms of the drug “deeply concealed within the vehicle,” Sgt. William Kerr said.

Seizures of large quantities of fentanyl, a powerful and frequently deadly synthetic opioid, have become increasingly common in the San Diego area, according to Kerr.

“Law enforcement … regularly encounters counterfeit Oxycodone and Xanax pills (that) contain fentanyl,” the sergeant said. “Due to a lack of quality control by the drug suppliers, the fentanyl dosage in the pills can vary and lead to unintentional use and accidental exposure, often leading to overdose and death.”

Escamilla and Camargo, who pleaded not guilty to all counts Friday afternoon, were each being held on $750,000 bail, though a felonious source of bail hold was imposed, meaning the defendants must prove any money they use to post bond was not obtained illegally before they can be released from custody.

They each face a maximum of five years in state prison if convicted of the charges and will return to court April 22 for a readiness conference.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.