by Steve Birr
A routine traffic stop by police in Kansas led to a massive seizure of the deadly opioid fentanyl, which was smuggled into the country from Mexico.
Authorities stopped a 2011 Nissan Jan. 19 on Interstate 70 after noticing the vehicle was registered with tags from Mexico. Upon searching the car after asking for permission from the driver, officers discovered 2.5 pounds of pure Mexican fentanyl carrying an estimated street value of roughly $1.3 million, reports KSAL.
Police arrested 27-year-old Victor Hugo Fimbres Pesqueir and 32-year-old Diana Aracely Manjarrez Beltran, both from Mexico. They face charges of possession of an opiate with the intent to distribute and not having a drug tax stamp.
Fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is currently fueling America’s opioid epidemic, coming in through the U.S. postal service and pouring over the border.
Mexican police seized a staggering 100 pounds of fentanyl in a vehicle bound for the U.S. border Jan. 25 after stopping it for a missing license plate. The massive haul, found just South of the city of Ensenada, Calif., was enough to kill several million people.
Fentanyl overtook heroin as the deadliest substance in the U.S. in 2016, claiming 19,413 lives in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Law enforcement bodies throughout the country have been reforming practices to better protect K-9 units, officers and their families from unintentional exposure to fentanyl, which can be deadly.
The state police of Oregon recently ordered their officers to stop field testing drug samples due to the increased threat posed by fentanyl. Representatives with the Oregon State Police say the decision is ultimately about protecting the health of first responders due to the “rapidly evolving threat” posed by synthetic opioids.
Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing 63,600 people in 2016. Opioid overdoses made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer.
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