Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) troopers seized 73 pounds of cocaine and 44 pounds of fentanyl in a traffic stop last week. Law enforcement officers also arrested the truck’s driver and a passenger who was with him, according to local media.
Buffalo County court records show that on April 26, a state trooper was driving eastbound on Interstate near Kearney, Nebraska. The trooper observed a refrigerated tractor-trailer rig bearing U.S. Mail markings weaving on the road and crossing the shoulder line because of high winds.
The state trooper pulled the semi over to the side of the road and began questioning the driver. The trooper’s investigation revealed that the driver, Felipe Geano-Minaya, 47, did not have a working electronic logging device on the vehicle. After the driver said he had an empty trailer, the trooper removed the truck from service for the log violation.
After further questioning, the driver and a passenger, Nelson N. Nunez, the trooper became suspicious for several reasons. The truck was empty, which is unusual for a mail carrier. The driver was unable to tell the trooper what his last load had been. The two men had different stories to explain why they had been in California for 10 days. The truck also had no CB radio and had fuel stickers for several different states. Only one sticker is required for all states.
His suspicions aroused, the trooper asked for permission to search the truck. Both Geano-Minaya and Nunez consented to the search. Under the refrigeration unit at the front of the trailer, the trooper discovered a hidden compartment. He found 42 brick-like packages wrapped in foil inside the secret space.
The packages contained what law enforcement officers believe to be 73 pounds of cocaine and 44 pounds of fentanyl. Troopers sent the suspected drugs to the Nebraska State Patrol Crime Lab for analysis. Because of the dangerous nature of fentanyl, officers do not conduct field tests of substances they suspect contain the powerful opioid.
Police took Geano-Minaya and Nunez, both of New Jersey into custody and booked them in Buffalo County Jail. They have been charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and for not having a Drug Tax stamp, according to the NSP. They are each being held in lieu of a $100,000 bail bond.
Fentanyl Is Fueling the Opioid Crisis
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is used as a pain medication and during anesthesia. It can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug is a major contributor to the opioid crisis in the U.S.
Drug dealers sometimes mix fentanyl with heroin to increase its potency. When drug users unknowingly take heroin mixed with fentanyl, they can subsequently overdose.
According to a JAMA study published recently, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are now responsible for more overdose deaths than prescription painkillers. In 2016, synthetic opioids caused more than 19,000 overdose deaths. That number is at least 2,000 deaths more than those attributed to prescription opioids, according to the study. In addition, approximately 37 percent of the heroin-related deaths in 2016 also involved synthetic opioids.