Opiate Epidemic Assaults South Florida

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the opioid epidemic became a campaign issue with overdose deaths hitting a peak of 28,000 nationally the previous year detailed by the latest current available data.

It was just a few weeks ago that the President of the United States declared the opioid crisis a National emergency. More than a year earlier, the Governor of Florida stated that opioid abuse was a public health emergency in the state.

Locally, a Miami man was arrested this past June for heroin trafficking and possession of Fentanyl. He was coordinating transactions of the opiates with what turned out to be a police informant.

Once making a few sales to the informant of what amounted to over thirty grams of heroin, Luis Manuel Charchabal was taken into custody by police. The street value of the drugs exchanged for cash was approximated at a value of $1500 to a little more than $2000.

The charges against him are three counts of heroin trafficking and three counts of possession of fentanyl with intent to deliver.

At the time of his arrest, Charchabal was found in possession of a combination of 21/2 kilos of heroin and fentanyl. He had previously sold more than thirty grams of heroin to the informant and apparently gained enough trust with him to tell him that he also had two kilos of fentanyl for sale for a price of $100,000. He referred to the fentanyl by the street name “China White”.

Other street names for fentanyl or fentanyl-laced heroin include Apache, China Girl, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, Tango and Cash among others.

As a prescription it is manufactured under the brand names of Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.

During a conversation with the police informant Charchabal allegedly told him that if there was someone he didn’t like, he could give them a “little dose of it to watch them fall.”

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to the drug morphine but has a potency of up to 50 to 100 times more powerful. It is a schedule II prescription narcotic and is typically used in hospitals to treat patients with severe pain or used for pain management after surgery. It’s also used post-op to treat those with chronic pain.

It is so powerfully toxic that it is estimated to be up to 80 times stronger than heroin and a quantity the size of 3 grains of sugar (about 2 milligrams) could kill a fully-grown adult.

After the arrest, extraordinary measures were taken when handling and field testing the then unknown yet suspected substance to protect the safety of the officers involved.

In Florida, the amount of overdoses has exploded over the past three years.

There were 61 reported seizures of the drug in the four year period between 2010 and 2013 which has swelled to 374 seizures in 2014 and 2015. Overdose deaths have nearly doubled over the past three years.

In addition to Fentanyl, other synthetic drugs from China are some of the main culprits of the overall illegal drug epidemic including drugs known as flakka, methylone MDMA (Molly, ecstasy), assorted types of bath salts and Spice, which is a synthetic marijuana product.

Charchabal’s bond was set at $1 million and will have to prove that any funds posted to give him temporary freedom did not come from the sale of any illegal narcotics. He is currently being held at the Metro West Detention Center in Miami-Dade County.
Complete information concerning this case can be found by clicking this link.

Michael Cohen is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Illegal Narcotics Attorney with close to 40 years of courtroom experience working for the federal government, the State of Florida, and now practicing as a criminal defense attorney to the public for close to half of his career.
To view Mr. Cohen’s complete attorney profile click here.