Seized fentanyl enough to kill 26M people, Nebraska police say

Gov. Ricketts Thanks State Patrol for Busting Drugs

A trooper stopped a Freightliner truck-tractor and semitrailer that was driving on the shoulder along the interstate and, during the stop, "became suspicious of criminal activity", Nebraska State Patrol said in a statement.

Troopers seized the fentanyl in a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Kearney on April 26.

In a tweet, the Nebraska State Patrol said the bust was "The largest seizure of fentanyl in Nebraska history and one of the largest ever in the U.S". They initially thought that most of the drugs were cocaine but further testing revealed these was all fentanyl.

Ricketts points out troopers didn't just seize almost a ton of marijuana in one traffic stop, but also seized more than 100 pounds of fentanyl in another bust.

In fact, he said, lab testing confirmed the substance - all 118 pounds of it - was fentanyl, which he said would be worth more than $20 million on the street.

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On Thursday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced a bust considered the largest one in the state's history and one of the largest ones in the United States. Both men were taken to Buffalo County Jail.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, and a dose as small as a quarter of a milligram can be fatal. The police officers showed symptoms of overdose after exposure to fentanyl found in a cigarette box inside the auto. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl and its variants killed more than 20,000 Americans previous year, and the number is increasing.

Authorities have also estimated that the 118-pounds of fentanyl recovered in this recent Nebraska drug bust is valued at around $20 million.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) fentanyl was responsible for at least half of the deaths attributed to opioid overdoses in 2016. Already, the agency says it's seized nearly as much - 934 pounds - in just the first six months of the 2018 fiscal year.

In the USA, it is approved as an anaesthetic and for pain relief, but because of its high profit margin for traffickers, it has become a large part of America's opioid crisis.