SLIDELL, La. (KPEL News) - A multi-agency investigation led to the arrest of 131 people and the seizure of 26 pounds of fentanyl, among other drugs - a history-making bust in Slidell, Louisiana.

The investigation was a joint venture between the Slidell Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It was part of a large operation known as "Operation: Heat Wave" by the agencies.

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"We didn't know at the time," Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said at a press conference, "how appropriate that name was."

Fandal explained that the bust was the largest fentanyl seizure in St Tammany's history. The fentanyl seized carried an estimated street value of $300,000.

"If you're here, thinking about or even thinking about coming here, know this we're coming for you," Fandal said during the Wednesday morning press conference. "Slidell's finest and our partners with the FBI, DEA, and Homeland Security are committed to take you off our streets. You're killing our citizens. And it's gonna stop."

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Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal highlighted some of the cases included:

  • The largest fentanyl seizure in St Tammany's history 11.5 kilos of fentanyl, with an estimated street value of $300,000. This arrest led to a federal indictment.
  • Two arrests of regional drug suppliers who were selling large amounts of fentanyl and heroin. They were responsible for distributing fentanyl daily to the people of North Shore and in the New Orleans metro area.
  • Second-degree murder indictment of fentanyl dealer. 44-year-old Rodney Reynolds of Slidell
  • 19 guns recovered

Chief Fandal says major drug traffickers are setting up in the area because they feel safe and they have easy access to New Orleans in the surrounding areas to distribute their narcotics.

Fentanyl in Louisina: "It's a Killer"

Credit: St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office/Facebook
Credit: St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office/Facebook

In Louisiana, as reported by The Advocatefentanyl-related deaths "increased from fewer than 200 statewide in 2017 to nearly 1,000 in 2022."

“It’s a game changer and it’s a killer,” Pointe Coupee Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux told the paper back in May.

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The problem with fentanyl is not the drug itself, but the fact that other street drugs are getting laced with it, making them more addictive and more dangerous. Fentanyl addiction is difficult to overcome, and overdoses are usually only treatable using naloxone. Th FDA approved an over-the-counter version called Narcan earlier this year.

But the impact of fentanyl continues to be felt across the country. The number of overdose deaths in the U.S. tripled from 2016 to 2021.

Fighting Fentanyl: Important Arrests Made Across Acadiana in 2022

The fight against fentanyl is a daunting one as the highly potent drug continues to take lives every day across the country. From Lafayette to the surrounding areas, law enforcement agencies have their hands full as they fight to get fentanyl off their respective streets.

Let's take a look back at headline-catching cases involving fentanyl in 2022.

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