Fed Agents In Tucson Seize 4,000 Fentanyl Pills, Guns In Undercover Operation

Modesta Vega Solano

A 50-year-old woman is in federal custody after being arrested May 7 when she showed up to sell more than 4,000 fentanyl pills and two guns to an undercover federal agent in Tucson.

Modesta Vega Solano is charged with possession of a fentanyl with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm by a felon. The undercover agent she met with is part of a Homeland Security Investigations Task Force, according to a criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in Tucson.

Solano, who is represented by Hugo Reyna of the Federal Public Defender’s Office, had an initial court appearance May 8 at which time a federal magistrate ordered her held without bail pending a May 13 detention hearing.

Public records show Solano served five years with the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) on several 1995 drug charges. She was also convicted of a marijuana offense in 2013 and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.  ADC records show Solano was released from custody in May 2017.

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Last week’s meeting wasn’t the first time Solano reportedly sold fentanyl pills to someone working on the HSI task force.

The criminal complaint notes she met with an undercover agent on April 16 to sell about 150 fentanyl pills and a Glock 9mm handgun for $2,000.  A chemical analysis of the pills revealed the presence of methamphetamine and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid commonly referred to as Mexican Oxy.

Depending on how it is manufactured, fentanyl can be 50, even 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl-involved deaths outpace deaths related to any other illicit drug, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment.

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are primarily manufactured in China and Mexico and are “the most lethal category of illicit substances misused in the United States,” the assessment notes. “The high potency and powerful effects of fentanyl continue to cause users to overdose and die in record high numbers.”

Earlier this year the DEA in Phoenix announced nearly 170,000 fentanyl polls were seized in Maricopa County.