United States Customs and Border Protection officers announced Thursday that they had seized the largest-ever illegal shipment of fentanyl, found in a produce truck coming from Mexico and bound for Arizona, according to the Associated Press.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is 50 to 100 times as potent as morphine. The CDC notes that fentanyl is often sold as heroin, or at least mixed with it, and in pill form, fentanyl is often mistake for other potent painkillers. For all of these reasons, alarmingly, fentanyl has emerged as the cause of nearly half of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S., a staggering uptick from just a few years ago, and a major shift in how enforcement and public health officials think about the ongoing opioid crisis. Fentanyl became more widely known for its deadly potential for abuse after the musician Prince died of an accidental overdose in 2016.
U.S. CBP officials said the recent illicit cargo was discovered on Saturday at the Nogales, Arizona port of entry. Weighing in at around 254 pounds and stowed in a hidden compartment, officials said the fentanyl bust is worth $3.5 million on the street. The bust also included nearly 400 pounds of methamphetamine.