Feds make largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history

The sensitive nose of a drug-sniffing dog has led to what federal officials say is the largest seizure in US history of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid blamed for the majority of overdose deaths.

Customs and Border Protection officers said Thursday they discovered 254 pounds of the drug hidden in a floor compartment of a truck trailer loaded with cucumbers. They also found 395 pounds of methamphetamine.

CBP valued the fentanyl at $3.5 million and the methamphetamine at $1.1 million.

The seizure was more twice the size of the apparent previous record of 118 pounds which was found in a truck stopped by state troopers in Nebraska in 2017.

In the latest case, the tractor-trailer was stopped Saturday trying to enter the U.S. through the border checkpoint in Nogales, Arizona.

Authorities said it was driven by a 26-year-old man who was arrested and charged with possessing drugs with the intent to distribute them. His identity and nationality were not immediately available.

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Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

A seized counterfeit hydrocodone tablets in the investigation of a rash of fentanyl overdoses in northern California is shown in this Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) photo released on April 4, 2016. At least 42 drug overdoses in the past two weeks have been reported in northern California, 10 of them fatal, in what authorities on Monday called the biggest cluster of poisonings linked to the powerful synthetic narcotic fentanyl ever to hit the U.S. West Coast.

(Drug Enforcement Administration/Handout via Reuters)

Fentanyl Citrate, a CLASS II Controlled Substance as classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency in the secure area of a local hospital Friday, July10, 2009.

(Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Dory Bauler's unused Fentanyl patch packets. She is one of millions of patients who used the fentanyl patch, which delivers a powerful narcotic through the skin. The patch, brand name Duragesic, was the subject of a recent FDA alert. Patients are overdosing, sometimes they die. Mrs. Bauler came off the patch when she realized the drug was causing her breathing problems, a sign of serious trouble. This photo was taken at her home in Laguna Woods.

(Photo by Glenn Koenig/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A small bag of straight Fentanyl on display at the State Crime Lab at the Ohio Attorney General's headquarters of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in London, Ohio.

(Photo by Ty Wright for/ For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'If I don't put these on, it hurts to breathe,' says Smitty Anderson wearing Fentanyl patches to help him deal with the pain caused by multiple myeloma cancer, a blood cancer that affects the bones. Anderson worked at Savannah River Site from 1981 to 1998. The Andersons filed claims to get federal compensation for his disease, which he said came from working at the nuclear site. He had no luck. 'We've been going through so much red tape for years,' he said. 'My wife has to do all the work now. I just don't have the strength anymore.' He died on Nov. 5, 2015.

(Gerry Melendez/The State/TNS via Getty Images)

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Michael Humphries, Nogales Area Port Director, praised his staff for the record-breaking arrest.

"Their attention to small details that is necessary to make these types of seizures is incredible."

The Centers for Disease Control said fentanyl was responsible for more than 28,400 overdose deaths in 2017, the latest year for which figures are available.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the drug is up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

"Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don't know that they are purchasing fentanyl — which often results in overdose deaths."

Most of the illicitly produced fentanyl in the United States comes from Mexico.

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