Texas state troopers seized 3.1 million lethal doses of fentanyl during a single traffic stop in the border town of Mission this week, Gov. Greg Abbott said.
The drugs, which have a street value of about $312,000, marked one of the largest seizures to date by Operation Lone Star, which was launched by Abbott in 2021 to crack down on crime in border communities.
Police pulled over Mario Reyna Cantu, a 39-year-old Mexican national, for a traffic violation while he was driving a black Cadillac SUV on Monday.
During the stop, a trooper discovered five bundles of a white powdery substance that tested positive for fentanyl on the scene, as well as at a state Department of Public Safety crime lab.
“Because of this single seizure, millions of lethal doses of fentanyl will not make their way into communities across our state, and really our country, and millions of lives are potentially saved,” Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a statement.
Reyna Cantu was booked into the Hidalgo County Jail on drug possession charges.
Fentanyl, a powerful opioid up to 50 times stronger than heroin, has driven the latest phase of the opioid crisis in Texas and the rest of the U.S.
A record 106,699 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021, about 70% of which involved fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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In the two years since the start of Operation Lone Star, state law enforcement has seized more than 380 million lethal doses of fentanyl, according to Abbott.
Fentanyl, which comes in pill, powder, and liquid form, is often cut into other illegal drugs, including heroin and counterfeit pills.
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The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill, 143-2, Tuesday to decriminalize fentanyl test strips, a measure that proponents hope will reduce drug overdoses.
Across the entire southwest border, Customs and Border Protection has seized 11,000 pounds of fentanyl in the first five months of fiscal year 2023, on track to easily eclipse the 14,700 pounds of fentanyl that were seized in fiscal year 2022.