U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly of Omaha announced federal criminal charges Monday against two New Jersey men who were allegedly carrying 118 pounds of fentanyl in a semi-truck.
The story of the fentanyl seizure by Nebraska State troopers became national news. It is one of the largest fentanyl seizures ever in the U.S.
It happened April 26 during traffic stop on I-80 a few miles west of Kearney.
The fentanyl, an extremely potent and dangerous opioid, was carefully wrapped in foil and hidden in a false sidewall compartment of the empty semi-trailer. Troopers stopped the truck for driving on the shoulder of I-80.
The seizure is the largest ever in Nebraska, surpassing the more than 36 pounds of fentanyl that was found in October 2017 in a traffic stop in Omaha.
Fentanyl is an opioid drug, 40-50 times more potent than heroin.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was scheduled to make the announcement, but canceled the day before due to a family obligation.
Those arrested were Nelson Nicolas Nunez-Acosta, 52, and Felipe Genao Minaya, 47, both of Newark, N.J.
They are charged with knowingly and intentionally possessing fentanyl with the intent to distribute. The penalty for these charges is 10 years to life.
“Heroin is one of the most potent and addictive drugs known to man. It is alarming but true that we are seeing more and more of this drug smuggled into this country and sold on our streets,” Session said in a prepared statement.
Synthetic opioids like fentanyl killed more Americans than any other kind of drug in 2016; in response, the Department of Justice tripled fentanyl prosecutions in 2017.
Sessions expressed no doubt that the state troopers have saved lives, and that this case will help law enforcement get closer to ending this unprecedented drug epidemic.
“The diligence of these two troopers is incredible.” said Kelly. “This is a multi-faceted problem that we are addressing through enforcement, prevention and treatment. This is an exceptional example of the enforcement work making our streets safer.”