On a Tuesday in early June last year, law enforcement agents arrived at an Airbnb rental in Boise with a search warrant. Their surveillance of a man operating a drug network from prison pointed to a Treasure Valley distributor who was renting that Airbnb, court records said.
Wathana “Noy” Insixiengmay, 34, of Nampa, pleaded guilty in October to possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine and was sentenced Feb. 27 to 12 years in prison and 5 years of probation.
Need to get in touch?
Have a news tip?
According to her plea agreement, investigators found in the Airbnb about 30,000 fentanyl pills, weighing about 104 milligrams each, and 3,451 grams of fentanyl powder. They also found 180 grams of methamphetamine and more than $12,000, the plea agreement said.
It was among the largest fentanyl busts in Idaho history, if not the largest, said Idaho’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Joshua Hurwit.
Hurwit’s office said Insixiengmay “was a main fentanyl distributor for a large drug trafficking organization with direct ties to Mexico,” taking 12 to 15 pounds of fentanyl per week for local distribution and sending her supplier $50,000 to $100,000 in proceeds the following week.
A fatal dose of fentanyl is 2 to 3 milligrams for an average-sized adult.
Traffickers see Idaho as active market for fentanyl, official says
Hurwit said the seizure is not just noteworthy because of the amount of fentanyl it contained. It is a warning sign that fentanyl traffickers see Idaho as a robust market for the drug, he said.
“The most important thing for members of the public is to recognize that there is a troubling amount of fentanyl out in our communities,” Hurwit told the Idaho Capital Sun in an interview. “But I also want people to recognize that law enforcement is doing a very good job, a very aggressive job, of tracking down those that distribute it … so that we can minimize the impact on the community.”
Preliminary data show that at least 353 deaths in Idaho in 2021 were from drug overdose, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Many more overdoses would have been fatal if not for the emergency overdose treatment, naloxone (also known as Narcan). Health and Welfare says at least 628 opioid-related overdoses were reversed with naloxone, in just one program.
There was a 23% increase in drug overdose deaths between 2020 and 2021, according to an annual report from Health and Welfare. The rate of fentanyl-related overdose deaths doubled in Idaho during that time, it said.
Fentanyl is a potent pain medication that can be administered by a medical professional. It is sometimes given, for example, as part of an epidural injection formula that reduces the pain of labor and childbirth.
But outside of a health care setting, it is responsible for a growing number of overdoses.
“Fentanyl is being mixed in with other illicit drugs to increase the potency of the drug, sold as powders and nasal sprays, and increasingly pressed into pills made to look like legitimate prescription opioids,” according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Because there is no official oversight or quality control, these counterfeit pills often contain lethal doses of fentanyl, with none of the promised drug,” the DEA says. “There is significant risk that illegal drugs have been intentionally contaminated with fentanyl. Because of its potency and low cost, drug dealers have been mixing fentanyl with other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine, increasing the likelihood of a fatal interaction.”
“We can’t prosecute our way out of this problem, so awareness is critical,” Hurwit said. “Spreading the word is as important, almost, as seizing the drugs.”
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX