SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County law enforcement is revealing a huge fentanyl seizure - 18 pounds of the drug.
That's enough of the synthetic opioid to create four million lethal doses.
That's half the amount of fentanyl seized in all of 2018, suggesting the drug is quickly growing into a substantial public threat.
This drug bust was in Santa Ana.
According to the California Department of Public Health, deaths in Orange County attributed to fentanyl have risen from 14 five years ago to 93 in 2018.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes says so far in 2019, his department has seized 100 pounds of fentanyl.
Barnes says this trend has gone on annually for the last three years. Seizures of fentanyl keep doubling and according to statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, seizures in Orange County are going up at a rate that's more than four times the nationwide increase.
With an ongoing opioid crisis, the U.S. has the demand, and fentanyl enters through California to make its way to the rest of the nation, Barnes said.
"Now fentanyl is the more affordable choice because of how prolific it's becoming, how easy to get and because how much more potent it is in dosage," Barnes said. "And it's cheaper to produce than heroin, so for all the wrong reasons, it's becoming an alternative to those who are addicted to opioids."
Over the last four years, the Orange County Sheriff's Department has sponsored legislation with California Sen. Pat Bates, proposing the penalties for trafficking fentanyl be like those for trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. Those bills have all been defeated.