Nebraska law enforcement & DEA make biggest fentanyl drug bust in state history
One of the largest opioid drug busts in the nation played out in Nebraska on Wednesday.
33 pounds of fentanyl, worth $15 million was taken off the street thanks to law enforcement surveillance at an Omaha train station. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nebraska, that's the largest fentanyl bust in state history and one of the largest in the nation.
Thursday, law enforcement officials said fentanyl is part of a new wave of drugs that gives addicts an intense high, and it is typically mixed with other drugs.
"Fentanyl is incredibly lethal, incredibly dangerous. It is a public health hazard of the highest degree," said Robert Stuart, acting U.S. attorney for the district of Nebraska.
"One of the most potent and dangerous substances right now known in the drug world. It's 40-50 times more potent than heroin," said Matthew Barden, a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.
Stuart said just a small amount of the opioid drug can be lethal.
Law enforcement officials say Edgar Navarro-Aguire, 27, was carrying more than 33 pounds of fentanyl when he was arrested at an Amtrak train station in Omaha on Wednesday.
They believe he was transporting the opioid from California to New York and New Jersey.
He is charged with knowingly and intentionally possessing with the intent to distribute 400 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance.
"As you all know, we are a corridor for drugs moving from the west through Nebraska to other states. We believe this is what this drug bust was," Stuart said.
Barden told NTV News pure fentanyl is deadly to the touch and if airborne.
He said in this case, the abuse of public transportation to deliver the drug was one mishap away from becoming a catastrophe for Nebraska.
"When you think about the potential public danger that this would have caused if the train would have derailed, if somebody would have gotten into that bag, if somebody had no idea what that substance was. You’re looking at the potential of millions of people, in theory, that if they would have taken a lethal dose of that could have died," Barden said.
The bust was not only a win for law enforcement, but also a win in the fight against drug overdose deaths.
"With 15 kilograms of fentanyl, the potential of making 15 million dosage units. If you think about the population of the state of Nebraska, just shy of 2 million people. You're looking at 7 or 8 dosage units per man, woman and child in the state of Nebraska," said Barden.
The DEA said fentanyl is typically mixed with other drugs.
The agency says, with more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths a year in the U.S., it is hoping to get the word out about the dangerous drug.
Navarro-Aguire is set to be in court on Friday and is facing 10 years to life in prison for possession with intent to deliver.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Nebraska State Patrol as part of an interdiction squad that also includes the Omaha Police Department and the Douglas County Attorney’s Office.