MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — Two men were arrested in early October for trafficking fentanyl. Zeshan Fayyaz, 26, and Lener Solies, 27 are charged with trafficking a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance.
In their arraignment hearing Wednesday morning, both Fayyaz and Solies appeared remotely in front of a judge from Mobile Metro Jail and pleaded not guilty to both of their charges.
Fayyaz and Solies are from California, and Chief Assistant District Attorney Keith Blackwood said the two were allegedly traveling in a rental car with an expired tag from the Los Angeles area. They were pulled over on I-10 heading toward Pensacola.
When deputies pulled them over, Solies admitted to not having a driver’s license and was the one driving. One of the two men admitted there were drugs in the car, and deputies got out the K9 unit and found the drugs on the passenger’s side.
Deputies seized 3.5 kilograms of fentanyl, which is enough to kill 1.5 million people, according to Mobile County’s Chief ADA Keith Blackwood.
Blackwood said he wanted to make sure the judge of this case understands how big of a problem fentanyl trafficking is in Mobile.
“It’s going to take every part of our criminal justice system to be on the same page when it comes to the seriousness and the dangerousness of fentanyl if we’re going to get a handle on this epidemic,” said Blackwood.
The suspects are set for a $1.5 million cash bond from a previous hearing which is the maximum bond set by the Alabama Supreme Court in murder cases. Blackwood argued this amount is reasonable because of the number of drugs in the suspect’s possession as well as how many people that amount of kill.
Solies’ attorney, Chase Dearman argued that the $1.5 million cash bond is too high, and is out of the ordinary for trafficking cases.
“My client didn’t murder anybody,” said Dearman. “And at this stage of the game, the law simply states he’s presumed innocent, and he should be entitled to a reasonable bond, there is no way he can afford a $1.5 million cash bond.”
Dearman added that all drugs are dangerous and said his client is innocent and is not admitting to anything.
If convicted of these charges, Solies and Fayyaz could face life in prison.
“This is truly a paradigm shift,” said Blackwood. “And the deadly nature of this drug is very, very concerning. It should be very concerning to us all.”
Since Solies and Fayyaz pleaded not guilty to both charges, they will have a preliminary hearing on Nov. 17.