U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced on Thursday that officers made a record-breaking seizure of fentanyl on the U.S.-Mexico border that was enough to kill tens of millions of Americans.
"According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a canine officer alerted other officers to the presence of 254 pounds of fentanyl hidden inside an 18-wheeler carrying cucumbers, during a secondary inspection at the Mariposa port of entry just past noon on Saturday," The Arizona Republic reported.
"This is the largest fentanyl seizure in any port of entry," CBP official Guadalupe Ramirez said. "In CBP, in the history of CBP, this is the largest fentanyl seizure."
In addition to the record fentanyl seizure, agents also seized 395 pounds of methamphetamine from inside the 18-wheeler. CBP estimated the value of the fentanyl, which came in the form of powder and pills, to be approximately $3.5 million.
CBP Arizona tweeted out photos from the press conference:
"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," NBC News reported. "His identity and nationality were not immediately available."
The amount of fentanyl seized by agents was enough to kill well over 57,000,000 Americans, given that the DEA states that as little as 2 milligrams can be fatal.
President Donald Trump weighed in on the bust, tweeting: "Our great U.S. Border Patrol Agents made the biggest Fentanyl bust in our Country’s history. Thanks, as always, for a job well done!"
Fentanyl, developed in 1959, “is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic,” according to the DEA.
"The occurrence of heroin mixed with fentanyl is also increasing," according to the DEA’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment. "Mexico remains the primary source of heroin available in the United States according to all available sources of intelligence, including law enforcement investigations and scientific data."
The DEA further notes that "Illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids — primarily sourced from China and Mexico—are now the most lethal category of opioids used in the United States."
The Centers for Disease Control estimated that "28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017," which is the latest year for which data is available.
The announcement renewed calls from lawmakers about the crisis on the southern border.
"Largest fentanyl bust in history. Border Patrol seized enough fentanyl to kill 57 MILLION people," Rep Jim Jordan tweeted. "That’s more than the population of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, and Iowa. COMBINED. We have a crisis on our southern border."
This report has been updated to include tweets from President Donald Trump and CBP Arizona.