KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A California man pleaded guilty in federal court to smuggling more than 33,000 counterfeit pills containing fentanyl aboard a bus traveling through Kansas City.

The Department of Justice reports Matthew J. Gomez, 28, pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute.

Members of the Missouri Western Interdiction Task Force (MoWIN) watched Gomez at a local bus terminal on March 16, 2023, as he got off a bus traveling through Kansas City from Los Angeles, according to the DOJ.

The DOJ says Gomez was wearing a backpack and carrying a large duffel bag. He walked out the front doors of the bus terminal and paced back and forth on the sidewalk while making a call on his cell phone.

Detectives asked Gomez if he would consent to a search of his luggage. Gomez placed his duffel bag on the ground and was in the process of removing his backpack when he quickly stepped away from the detective in an attempt to run. Following a struggle, Gomez was eventually placed under arrest, according to the DOJ.

Officers searched Gomez’s backpack and found three large, heat-sealed packages that contained numerous blue M30 pills. The Kansas City Police Crime Laboratory confirmed the pills contain fentanyl.

The number of pills totaled was 33,497 for an approximate weight of 8.12 pounds.