BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- Two Arizona men who were allegedly hauling 100,000 fake oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl were arrested after one of them urinated outdoors in the vicinity of two observant Burbank police officers.
The drug bust started when two uniformed officers on patrol saw what they believed to be a man urinating outdoors in the parking lot of a gas station on Alameda Avenue in Burbank on July 12.
When officers saw a man standing near a dumpster in the parking lot around 1 a.m., they tried to make contact, with one officer yelling "hello," in his direction, officials say. The man avoided eye contact and kept walking away.
The officers drove past the dumpster and saw a puddle on the ground.
The man got into a Nissan with Washington plates with another man and they drove off from the gas station. Police say in addition to the public urination, the vehicle failed to stop at the sidewalk, in violation of Burbank traffic code.
The officers decided to make a traffic stop and the suspects pulled over.
Eventually the traffic stop led to a search of the vehicle.
Burbank police say they found a loaded handgun, 50 rounds of ammunition and more than 100,000 fake oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl.
Police arrested Fernando Paul Arenas, 20, of Glendale, Arizona and Ricardo Corral Rivera, 21, of Phoenix.
The two Arizona men are now in federal custody and are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court next month.
Federal agents say it was simply good police work by the two Burbank cops that led to the big bust.
"That's the epitome of real police work right there," said agent Bill Bodner with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. "Seeing something that's not right, addressing it, asking questions and getting to the bottom of things."
In 2021, the DEA says it seized more than 3 million fentanyl pills in the Los Angeles area. Earlier this month, DEA agents seized 1 million fentanyl pills, with a street value between $15 million to $20 million, at a home in Inglewood.
So far this year, the DEA has already seized more than 2.5 million fentanyl pills in Southern California.
And more and more of these fake pills are hitting the streets of Southern California with deadly consequences.
"Because of our location, because of our freeway system, our airports and train stations, we are a trans-shipment center for the drug cartels, Jalisco and Sinaloa. They bring drugs into the United States over our California border," Bodner said. "The drugs come here to LA where they're warehoused and further distributed."
Dr. Andrei Dokukin is with Dignity Health - St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. He says there's an average of 12 fentanyl overdose deaths a day in Southern California.
He has a strong warning about using these street drugs.
"It's a sure way to die," Dokukin said. "Put it this way, it may not happen tomorrow but to me it's not a question of whether it's going to happen but when it's going to happen."