Historic Drug Bust Yields Enough Fentanyl To Cause Nearly 30 Million Deaths

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Authorities seized enough fentanyl to cause 26 million fatal overdoses in the largest drug bust in Nebraska state history.

Officers with the Nebraska State Patrol conducted a routine traffic stop April 26 of a semi-truck driving on the shoulder of Interstate 80 near Kearney, Neb., and quickly became suspicious of the driver and passenger. The truck looked empty, but a search revealed a false compartment stuffed with 118 pounds of narcotics, reported NPR.

Authorities initially thought the massive drug stash contained multiple substances including cocaine, but a subsequent test performed by the state crime lab determined all 118 pounds to be fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. (RELATED: Border Agents Double Seizure Of Illegal Opioids Pouring In From Mexico)

It represents one of the largest single seizures of fentanyl in U.S. history. The haul carries an estimated street value of $20 million and is enough fentanyl to cause roughly 26 million fatal overdoses.

“When you take that much fentanyl off the street you are saving lives,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said, according to NPR.

Both the driver of the truck and a passenger were arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of traffickers. However, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is gaining ground against drug movers taking advantage of America’s opioid scourge.

A recent report from Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill shows that fentanyl seizures by Border Patrol agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection increased by 72 percent in 2017. The number of overall opioid seizures nearly doubled from 579 pounds in 2013 to 1,135 pounds in 2017, a reflection of the deteriorating addiction crisis in the U.S.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.

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