Sa, 2.12.2023

Dealer swollows fentanyl as arrested. Stomach cut open

Risto Berendson
, reporter
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Photo: Politsei

Under very eyes of police, a dealer swallowed large amount of fentanyl. To save his life, stomach had to be cut open in hospital and plastic bag with drugs removed. 

«Quite an extraordinary story, this here,» noted Northern prefecture drug department head Leho Laur. We were talking about a criminal case concluded at court a month ago as spawned by a routine petrol operation on October 7th 2015.

In central Tallinn, the police planned to arrest Margus Mantsik (35) who was known to be street-selling fentanyl. For the criminal police, Mr Mantsik was well known as repeatedly punished for thefts in apartments.

By now, the man has been criminally convicted eight times. The seventh judgement sounded mere month before the abovementioned police operation. Then, for apartment theft the court sentenced him to 240 hours of community service.

As breaking into flats leaves plenty of evidence – Mr Mantsik’s fingerprints, foot size, and DNA all entered into criminal police database –, and fed up of getting caught, the man had switched professions. A drug user himself, Mr Mantsik had turned into a dealer.

The drug police street patrol was watching for the man on October 7th in front of his house. It was 6:50 as Mr Mantsik exited the door and saw criminal policemen, in civilian clothing, running towards him.   

Before the policemen reached the dealer, he stuck something in his mouth and swallowed. «It is quite usual for substance to be carried in mouth with a Minigrip bag and as arrested they try to swallow it unnoticed,» said the criminal policeman Mr Laur. «Only this time we saw it being swallowed.»

Therefore, the policeman who got to the dealer first promptly proceeded to stick his fingers into his mouth trying to get hold of the drugs before they went down. Thereat, Mr Mantsik bit the policeman’s hand. «Thankfully, he had gloves on and was not hurt,» said Mr Laur.

But the dealer had managed to swallow the drugs. Quickly, they drove to the emergency department at East-Tallinn Central Hospital where, after some convincing, the patient agreed to drink the special substance allowing the computerised equipment to better detect the foreign matter in stomach.  

Having waited for several hours, confirmation was given that Mr Mantsik indeed has a small zipped plastic bag in his stomach. The usual would have been to wait until it comes out the way things do, but things got serious.

Namely, as assessed by the doctors, the bag would not have withstood the digestive processes and, having been broken, Mr Mantsik would probably have died fast. Rapid surgical intervention needed, Mr Mantsik needed to grant permission. «Thankfully he realised his life was in danger and he allowed the doctors to proceed,» said Mr Laur.

Seven hours after the fentanyl was swallowed, the stomach was cut open to yield a zip-bag with 14 folium envelopes. All in all, 0.73 grams of fentanyl containing 0.026 grams of pure substance. This equals about 200 doses i.e. a large amount of drugs.

There was no way Mr Mantsik could have denied possession of the drugs. Regarding the rest, he naturally remained tongue-tied: the drugs were for own use only, and he got them from an unknown individual. As to the swallowing, he said it was because of shock.

Prosecutor Raigo Aas ended up with compromise procedure with him, resulting with nearly three years of real imprisonment. For possession of drugs, this may sound tough but we need to consider his less than a month old criminal punishment for theft.

According to court judgement, Mr Mantsik will also have to pay €848 for his extraordinary stomach surgery. Also, the state confiscated the €140 found with him as he was arrested.


Surgery also needed for drug mule back from Nepal

For Leho Laur, the above was second case of such surgery needed.

The first was in 2012 as a drug mule back from Nepal was caught with heroine capsules swallowed. «After a week almost in the stomach, one package was beginning to come apart and it become life-threatening,» recalled Mr Laur.

As the capsules were also obviously hampering normal functioning of the stomach, surgery was needed. «Thankfully, such cases are rarity,» added Mr Laur.