An undercover narcotics operation in downtown Nashville busted three men involved in selling cocaine laced with fentanyl, authorities said Saturday.
Khalil D. Smith, 26; Nesean Thompson, 22; and 26-year-old Michael Terry were arrested on felony drug charges Friday night after selling three grams of a white powdery substance to an undercover detective for $200, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.
Officers seized from Smith two 11-gram bags of white powder that tested positive for fentanyl and cocaine, FOX17 Nashville reported. Detectives also recovered 23 Xanax bars, 21 grams of marijuana and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Smith was also in possession of a gun, according to police.
Smith, who was prohibited from possessing a gun after being convicted of felony aggravated assault in 2020, is being held on $100,000 bond, the news station reported.
Thompson, who was wanted on six felony aggravated assault warrants related to an April 24 shooting, was being held on $377,500 bond, police said. Terry’s bond was set at $15,000.
Fentanyl was believed to be responsible for about 80% of suspected drug overdose deaths in the Nashville and Davidson County area during the first quarter of this year, the Metro Public Health Department of Nashville/Davidson County said.
On Friday, the agency issued a health warning to the public about the spike in drug overdoses in the downtown Nashville area and alerted residents to the presence of fentanyl, in powder and pill form, in the area.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine and up to 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can cause death or serious bodily harm.
Fentanyl is a major contributor to the opioid crisis in the U.S., with synthetic opioids accounting for nearly 73% of all opioid-involved deaths in 2019, according to the CDC.