The Nebraska State Patrol made a historic drug bust as it seized 118 pounds of the opiate drug fentanyl last month.
Largest Fentanyl Seizure In Nebraska
The bust is the largest fentanyl seizure in the history of Nebraska and among the largest in the United States.
The drugs were seized during a routine traffic stop. Nebraska State Patrol Col. John Bolduc said that the troopers became suspicious of a semi-truck that was driving on the shoulder lane, prompting them to search the vehicle, which eventually led to the discovery of the illicit drugs concealed in a hidden compartment.
The troopers did not immediately test the drugs out of caution given the dangerous nature of the substance. They initially thought that most of the drugs were cocaine, but further testing revealed these were all fentanyl.
"Further testing from the NSP Crime Lab has confirmed that the entire 118 pounds of drugs seized during a traffic stop on April 24 in Buffalo County is fentanyl," the Nebraska State Patrol said in a statement. "Without question that traffic stop saved thousands of lives."
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid up to 100 times more potent than morphine and up to 50 times more potent than heroin. The drug is dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with it since it can be accidentally inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
There have been incidents of police officers and drug overdose responders falling ill due to accidental exposure to the drug.
Last year, three police officers were taken to a hospital in Everett, Massachusetts, after responding to a car crash that involved three men suspected of drug overdose. The police officers showed symptoms of overdose after exposure to fentanyl found in a cigarette box inside the car.
A fentanyl spill at the Duluth Police Department , which also happened last year, likewise became a hazmat situation. A police officer and a crime scene technician had to be quarantined because they were exposed to the drug.
Seized Amount Of Fentanyl Could Kill More Than 26 Million People
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said that just 2 milligrams of fentanyl can be deadly, which means that the amount of the drug that was taken into custody would be enough to kill 26 million people. The value of the drug is estimated to be at over $20 million.
The truck's driver, 46-year-old Felipe Genao-Minaya, and the passenger, 52-year-old Nelson Nunez, both from New Jersey, were arrested.