Miami-Dade County

Dealer arrested in what might be Miami-Dade County’s largest fentanyl bust

A convicted felon was charged with possession of heroin and fentanyl in what might be the largest seizure of the drug in county history, police said.

Luis Manuel Charchabal, 55, was arrested around 12:30 a.m. Thursday after a long-term joint narcotics investigation conducted by the state attorney’s office and the Miami-Dade Police Department, according to Miami-Dade state attorney's office spokesman Ed Griffith.

Charchabal was charged with three counts of illegal trafficking of heroin, a first-degree felony, and three counts of possession with intent to deliver, a second-degree felony.

According to court records, he was convicted of cocaine possession in 1997.

Thursday’s seizure of 2.5 kilograms of heroin and fentanyl may be the largest the county’s state attorney’s office has recorded, Griffith said.

“There’s not really a clear track, but [this amount] has not really been heard of,” Griffith said. “We’ve not handled a case this big.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic and much more potent version of heroin, so strong that just a few grains can kill an adult. Use of both has risen sharply in Miami-Dade, and dozens of cases in South Florida in the last few years have involved heroin cut with its synthetic cousin to up its potency — and its risk of causing an overdose.

Miami-Dade police made the arrest Thursday, and federal agencies are assisting in evaluating the seized drugs, Griffith said.

“Selling Fentanyl is selling death by a different name,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. “The opioid epidemic that America, Florida and Dade County are all experiencing is made possible by those individuals who see illegal profits as more important than human life. In this community, we will continue to fight such drug dealers on the streets and work to end addiction through our drug court.”

Juan Perez 021216
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan J. Perez, in the statement, stressed the ongoing impact of opioids both in South Florida and across the country.

“This case serves as just one example of the ongoing efforts of Narcotics Bureau detectives who will continue to work diligently, together with our law enforcement partners, to prevent additional overdose tragedies related to this poison,” he said.

A previous version of this headline did not specify Thursday’s drug bust was likely the largest fentanyl seizure in the county’s history, not the largest drug seizure.