According to estimates by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, this was enough fentanyl to kill 26 million people. This estimate is based on the fact, according to the DEA, that just two milligrams of the drug is enough to kill a person.
On April 26, state troopers became aware of a suspicious semi-truck driving on the shoulder of Interstate 80. After pulling the truck over, troopers searched the vehicle and found the record-breaking stash in a hidden compartment.
At first glance, the troopers thought they had found a formidable mound of what was probably mostly cocaine. Testing of the drug was delayed because of the “dangerous nature of the substance,” as some drugs, including fentanyl, are dangerous if touched and absorbed into the skin or accidentally breathed in.
It was fortunate they took such precautions, because testing revealed that all 118 pounds were fentanyl. This bust was the largest the state of Nebraska had ever seen, and is among the largest in the country, announced Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.
The driver and passenger of the truck, 46-year-old Felipe Genao-Minaya and 52-year-old Nelson Nunez, were arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Authorities estimate the product they were hauling was worth more than $20 million.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is anywhere between 50 and 100 times stronger than morphine and 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin.
The drug has exacerbated the opioid crisis and has been involved in a few high-profile deaths, including Prince and Tom Petty. Petty was found unconscious in his home and was rushed to the hospital in full cardiac arrest. An autopsy revealed that among the drugs in his system, fentanyl featured prominently.
In Prince’s case, neither he nor those close to him knew he was taking fentanyl. Everyone involved thought the pills were Vicodin, but they were actually fentanyl-laced counterfeits, according to an investigation.
Kellyanne Conway, who was entrusted by the Trump administration with the task of tackling the opioid crisis, suggested that fentanyl addiction and deaths could be avoided if people opted for junk food as their vice instead.