High-paid informant led DEA to suburban fentanyl bust in nationwide narcotics sting

It’s part of an effort targeting Mexican cartels selling counterfeit OxyContin, Xanax and other drugs that actually contain the deadly synthetic opioid, which the DEA chief called a national emergency.

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Bricks of fentanyl seized Sept. 20 by the DEA in Countryside.

Bricks of fentanyl seized Sept. 20 by the DEA in Countryside.

U.S District Court

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration brought out a heavy hitter — an informant paid more than $1.9 million over the past two decades for his tips — to help agents seize more than seven kilograms of deadly fentanyl from a man in the south suburbs during a nationwide narcotics sting.

Hector Bayardo’s arrest Sept. 20 in a Walmart parking lot in Countryside came after the informant brokered a deal for Bayardo to sell the drugs, a DEA agent said in a court affidavit.

The deal was for “six Tecate beers” — which was code for six kilograms of heroin, the agent wrote.

When the DEA tested the drugs, they discovered they actually had fentanyl, a synthetic opioid at least 30 times more potent than heroin, according to the affidavit.

The court filing said Bayardo told agents he was being paid $2,000 to deliver the drugs, which were to be sold for $35,000 per kilogram.

Bayardo was one of 22 people arrested in stings in the DEA’s Chicago field division, which includes Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. They were part of nationwide DEA operation against Mexican drug cartels that sell heroin, fentanyl and counterfeit OxyContin and Xanax pills containing fentanyl. More than 800 people were arrested nationally in the operation.

Earlier this week, the DEA launched a campaign called “One pill can kill” to warn the public of a sharp rise in the sale of such fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills, most which authorities say are manufactured by drug cartels in Mexico using chemicals shipped from China.

Between Aug. 3 and Tuesday, the DEA carried out a series of investigations targeting fentanyl trafficking operations. The DEA’s Chicago field division seized 77,000 counterfeit pills containing fentanyl in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana during that period, and about 4,000 of them were confiscated in the Chicago area, officials say.

More than 24 kilograms of fentanyl — including raw fentanyl and fentanyl in pill form — were seized in the three-state area, including 10.5 kilograms in the Chicago area.

About 1.8 million counterfeit pills were seized across the country along with more than 700 kilograms of fentanyl powder.

“Many of these investigations began as a result of overdose deaths,” DEA administrator Anne Milgram said at a news conference Thursday in Washington, calling the proliferation of fentanyl a “national emergency.”

Last year, more than 900 people in Chicago died of overdoses from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to authorities, who say an amount of the drug as small as the tip of a pen can be fatal.

Robert Bell, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Chicago field division, said in a written statement the sting “holds cartels and local drug distributors accountable for the devastation they have inflicted.”

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