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Over 5,000 fentanyl pills, other drugs and guns found in Lehigh Acres home

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Posted at 12:34 PM, Nov 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-14 18:20:45-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — More than 5,000 fentanyl pills and other drugs found in a Lehigh Acres home led to the arrests of four men. The investigation prompted the Lee County Sheriff's Office to create a new task force, targeting overdose deaths.

According to Sheriff Carmine Marceno, the investigation started on November 7 when Marceno says they pulled over a car on State Road 82. During the stop, Noah Bernthon admitted to deputies he had a gun in the car.

Marceno says when the man stood up, a bag of pills was found in the driver's seat. Deputies ended up finding over 100 grams of fentanyl pills, 7.6 grams of cocaine, several other various prescription pills and two guns.

"Based on the amount of narcotics located in that vehicle, with additional information from that vehicle leading signs, was part of a major drug trafficking group," Marceno said.

Through their investigation, deputies ended up searching a home on Gray Stone Avenue. The amount of drugs found in the home Marceno says was "shocking."

"Over 5,000 fentanyl pills, over 2,000 pills that resembled Xanax," Marceno said. "1,000 other pills including amphetamine and oxycodone, 370 grams of cocaine, 72 grams of meth, 63 grams of power-fentanyl and over seven pounds of pot."

Deputies also found guns, including a ghost gun.

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Deputies arrested Bernthon at the traffic stop, along with three men at the home:

  • 25-year-old Dominic Bernthon
  • 24-year-old Jacob Rickerman
  • 44-year-old Michael Rivera
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(From Left to Right) - Michael Riveria, Jacob Rickerman, Dominic Bernthon

With the investigation, Marceno launched a new task force called DHIT (Drug Homicide Investigations Team). The goal: determine if overdose deaths are drug-induced homicides.

If they determine it is a homicide, the Lee County Sheriff's Office will recommend homicide charges to the State Attorney's Office. Marceno says they will look at every overdose case, but it's not known if the office will look at previous cases before the task force was created.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), says seven out of 10 fentanyl pills they seize have a deadly dose.

"Just one of these pills can kill," Marceno said. "Someone thinking they are taking a regulated medication are taking poison."

At a press conference on Tuesday, the DEA said the fentanyl isn't being made here.

"There are two cartels who are responsible for all the drugs, all the fentanyl that is coming into the United States: Sinaloa and the Jalisco cartels," according to an assistant special agent in charge.

As of Tuesday evening, three out of the four men are out on bond.