SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith held a press conference on Tuesday to discuss a major fentanyl bust from last week where roughly nine pounds of the illicit substance were seized.

Smith said a deputy noticed a van with Mexico license plates hauling several motorcycles and a car on a trailer, with another car being hauled behind that. When the driver failed to use a turn signal, a Smith County deputy performed a traffic stop.

Mugshot courtesy of the Smith County Jail.

During the traffic stop the single occupant of the vehicle, identified as 33-year-old Erik Martin Islas Angeles of Mexico, allegedly had three cell phones that were ringing “all the time,” which raised suspicions with the deputy.

Angeles reportedly consented to a vehicle search, then the deputy found a car-sized battery in the back of the van. After the deputy picked up the battery, Smith said he could tell immediately it was not of normal battery weight.

“More times than not, the deputy gets consent prior to having to use the canine, and that’s what happened in this instance,” Smith said. “The canine was not deployed.”

The battery had been hollowed out and contained 42,000 fentanyl pills, the sheriff said. A dose of fentanyl the size of a pin head is enough to kill. Smith said the substance is manufactured in China then taken to Mexico, where it can eventually make its way to the southern Texas border.

Photo courtesy of Smith County Sheriff’s Office

“That could’ve been 42,000 deaths right there in the United States,” Smith said.

The pills were round and blue with an “M” stamped on one side.

Photo of fentanyl pill seized in bust, courtesy of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

“We got a lot of kids, a lot of adults on drugs,” Smith said. “We want to get the word out to them that they need to be careful about taking any tablet such as this.”

Angeles was released on a $2 million bond from the Smith County Jail on Tuesday, judicial records show. According to a press release, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office is a part of the North Texas Sheriff’s Criminal Interdiction Unit who helped respond in this case.

Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said that efforts like these save lives.

“This large seizure of fentanyl by NTXCIU deputies will make communities across East and North Texas that much safer,” Skinner said. “The eight Sheriff’s offices that comprise the NTXCIU will continue their close inter-agency cooperation to push back and fight the deadly scourge of fentanyl. These efforts save lives.”

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said he is proud to be a part of the effort to stop fentanyl.

“I am proud of the interagency cooperation between in this multiagency task force. I am also proud of our Narcotics Unit who in short notice responded to this incident. This influx of deadly fentanyl into our state and communities has to be stopped,” said Smith.

Check back with KETK News tonight for a report on fentanyl crossing the border and what East Texas law enforcement agencies are doing to stop it.