Feds make biggest-ever fentanyl bust at the border

Federal law enforcement agents stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., made the largest-ever seizure of fentanyl Saturday after stopping a truck that was purportedly trying to bring cucumbers into the country, according to Customs and Border Protection officials.

CBP officials said Homeland Security employees stationed at the border crossing found 254 pounds of fentanyl in a single bust. Nogales area Port Director Michael Humphries said the seizure would likely save U.S. lives.

"One kilogram of fentanyl contains 1 million fatal doses," he said.

A few grains of fentanyl can put a person in a coma . Fentanyl is up to 50 times as strong as heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and it led to more than 20,000 deaths in 2017 .

The Trump administration has cited illicit drugs being smuggled from Mexico into the U.S. as a leading factor for enhancing security at the 2,000-mile border. But Democrats say most drugs are transported through formal checkpoints such as the one at Nogales.

On Saturday, an officer working at the port of entry in Nogales had referred the tractor-trailer for a second inspection after the driver initially tried to pass through the checkpoint.

The truck went through a massive X-ray machine, which alerted officers to narcotics inside the trailer. Inside the trailer were 10 packages of fentanyl pills, 100 packages of powdered fentanyl, and about 300 packages of methamphetamines. A total 354 pounds of fentanyl valued at $3.5 million and 395 pounds of meth worth $1.1 million were seized from the truck.

Up until Saturday, the largest amount of fentanyl seized by border employees was 118 pounds on a truck that was pulled over by Nebraska state troopers in 2017.

The driver of the truck was arrested and identified as a 26-year-old Mexican citizen. He was charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute illegal narcotics, officials said at the press conference.

Fentanyl seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border have spiked in recent years, jumping 750 percent in the first seven months of fiscal 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier. CBP and its maritime counterparts seized 284 pounds of fentanyl between Oct. 1, 2017, and April 30.

However, the strongest and most potent fentanyl in the country is not coming over from Mexico and instead is coming from China through the mail.

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