Drug trafficker dressed as nun with Bible on lap was hiding fentanyl, Arizona cops say

An Arizona deputy pulled over a couple suspected of trafficking drugs this week, and wasn’t fooled by the nun outfit the wife was sporting, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

A deputy and a K-9 pulled the couple over on Interstate 10 outside of Elroy, Arizona, around 2 p.m. on Monday “for an equipment violation and a moving violation,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Inside the car were 52-year-old Jose Aguilar Diaz and his wife, 53-year-old Esther Gomez De Aguilar, who “appeared to be dressed like a nun,” complete with a Bible sitting on her lap, according to the sheriff’s office. Both are residents of Yuma.

But deputies said several aspects of the situation were suspicious, and the officer searched the vehicle — uncovering four bundles of what appeared to be fentanyl pills in the woman’s purse. The woman had hidden more suspected fentanyl — two rectangular bundles full — under her clothes, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies said the woman arrested in the traffic stop appeared to be dressed like a nun, and shared this photo on Facebook. Pinal County Sheriff's Office

Sheriff Mark Lamb said in a statement included in the Facebook post that traffickers “will use any means to try to conceal what they are doing.”

Authorities found and seized more than eight pounds of the potent opioid, deputies said. The sheriff’s office said that quantity of fentanyl would have sold for $90,000.

“Fentanyl is extremely dangerous,” Lamb said. “All it takes is the equivalent of 4-5 grains the size of sand to kill you.”

The synthetic opioid has contributed to a record number of fatal overdoses across the United States in recent years, according to experts. Fentanyl in particular is so powerful that mere contact can be harmful: Just last month, exposure at a Northern California police headquarters hospitalized multiple officers and required the evacuation of the department, McClatchy reported.

Aguilar and Diaz were arrested and booked at a jail in Florence on charges of possessing narcotics, possessing narcotics for sale and transporting narcotics for sale, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Facebook post about the couple’s arrest — which includes photos of the woman’s outfit and of the suspected drugs — has been shared more than 500 times as of Thursday afternoon.

Online Pinal County jail records indicate both suspects are being held on $25,000 bond each, and each has a court hearing set for March 12.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.