Police seize enough fentanyl to kill 26 million people in massive drug bust: Report

A record amount of fentanyl was seized by authorities in Nebraska last month, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimated that it’s enough to kill over 26 million people.

Police discovered nearly 120 pounds of the synthetic opioid in a semi-truck last month after the vehicle was seen driving on the shoulder of the road, CNN reports. They subsequently stopped 46-year-old Felipe Genao-Minaya, along with his passenger, Nelson Nunez, 52, both of New Jersey, and “became suspicious of criminal activity.”

While searching a hidden compartment of the semitrailer, police discovered 42 foil-wrapped packages containing approximately 118 pounds of fentanyl.

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.”

Genao-Minaya and Nunez were arrested following the bust and are each being held on a $100,000 bond.

According to the DEA’s website, fentanyl is “30-50 times more potent than heroin and 50-100 times more potent than morphine.” The agency said the drug is used most commonly with other opioids for chronic or breakthrough pain to help relieve conditions such as pain caused by cancer.

“Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions,” according to the DEA. “When opioid drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain’s reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) fentanyl was responsible for at least half of the deaths attributed to opioid overdoses in 2016. Just two milligrams of the drug, equivalent to only a couple of grains of salt, is enough to kill a person, and even exposure to the opioid is extremely dangerous and potentially lethal.

[Feature photo: Drug Enforcement Agency]