Baltimore Police recovered a “substantial amount” of suspected fentanyl and morphine during a raid of an Old Goucher corner store on Tuesday morning, they said.
Two unidentified people were taken into custody. Police said charges are pending.
The raid, based on a search and seizure warrant obtained after a community member sent in a tip and police conducted an undercover investigation, drew substantial attention in the neighborhood in part because of its reliance on a hazmat team to secure the drugs.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is far more potent than heroin and deadly in small amounts, and law enforcement officials have learned to take extreme precautions when handling it.
It was not immediately clear Tuesday how much of the drug was recovered, but police officers carried off five large brown bags, multiple boxes and several other plastic bags of materials from the Charles Village Discount Mart.
The store only recently opened at the corner of W. 22nd Street and North Charles Street. Its owners could not be reached for comment.
Capt. Jarron Jackson, a police spokesman, said police believe a drug operation working out of the location was providing fentanyl to users across Baltimore, particularly in South Baltimore.
Jackson said the raid represented good police work and a major win for the city, which is experiencing a fentanyl crisis. Deaths linked to the drug have surged in recent years, overtaking homicide and heroin as the city’s leading killer.
“What you see today is the community and police working together to combat that crisis,” Jackson said. “A person in the community saw something that concerned them, and they reported it.”
Members of the Baltimore Fire Department’s hazmat team worked for hours in hazmat suits and gas masks to secure the drugs within the store. Two were later hosed down outside before removing their gear.
A fire department spokeswoman referred all questions to police.
After the hazmat unit was finished, a police unit, also wearing masks and gloves, entered the store to pack up the drugs as evidence.
After loading a patrol vehicle and an undercover police car with the evidence, they shut off the lights to the corner store.
Kelly Cross, president of the Old Goucher Community Association, said the raid of the recently opened corner store did feel like “a little setback” in the association’s efforts to attract new businesses to Old Goucher, but he’s happy the police uncovered and stopped the alleged drug operation “in a targeted, meaningful way.”
Cross said there are several methadone clinics in the neighborhood that provide treatment for drug users, and sometimes drug dealers come to the area for a ready customer base.
“They prey on just the sheer concentration of patients who are here,” Cross said.
He said he hopes the raid moves the neighborhood another step in the right direction.
Residents who live on the block had mixed reactions.
“This is concerning,” said one man.
“Eh, it’s Baltimore,” said a woman.