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First Bust Of Carfentanil As Deadly Opioid Moves Into Bridgeport

Federal courthouse in Bridgeport
Federal courthouse in Bridgeport Photo Credit: Contributed

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A former Bridgeport man busted on drug charges will be the first person in Connecticut prosecuted in a federal case involving carfentanil, a dangerous and deadly opioid, prosecutors said Thursday.

Charles Thelusma, 43, was arrested Tuesday and charged with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, heroin, carfentanil and U47700, prosecutors said.

“This is the first federal prosecution involving carfentanil in Connecticut,” said Deirdre Daly, U.S. attorney for Connecticut. “We will continue to devote numerous federal resources to battle the scourge of opioid abuse and distribution, and our commitment becomes stronger as these illegal drugs become more sinister and deadly.”

Carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is itself 50 times more potent than heroin. It is used as a tranquilizing agent for elephants. U47700 is a synthetic opioid that is seven times stronger than morphine.

“I would like to commend my officers for their excellent work on following up with this investigation in regards to this very dangerous drug,” said Norwalk Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik.

On two occasions in March and May, law enforcement coordinated a controlled purchases of heroin from Thelusma. In both instances, an individual working for him completed the drug transactions at predetermined locations in Bridgeport.

On May 24, law enforcement conducted a controlled purchase of three bundles heroin (30 dose bags) from Thelusma for $200. He directed the purchaser to a hotel in Elmsford, N.Y., to complete the transaction. Laboratory analysis of the drugs purchased that day confirmed the presence of heroin, carfentanil and U47700.

Thelusma was arrested on June 13 at the hotel in Elmsford, where he had been living.

He appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport and was ordered detained. Thelusma could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison on the charge.

“Those suffering from opioid addiction need access to treatment and recovery,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Ferguson. “But those responsible for the distribution of heroin and deadly synthetic opioids like carfentanil and U-47700 need to be held accountable for their actions.”

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