US Customs and Border Protection officials announced Thursday their biggest fentanyl bust ever, saying they captured nearly 254 pounds of the deadly synthetic opioid from a secret compartment inside a load of Mexican produce heading into Arizona, the AP reports. The drug was found hidden Saturday morning in a compartment under the rear floor of a tractor-trailer after a scan during secondary inspection indicated "some anomalies" in the load, and the agency's police dog team alerted officers to the presence of drugs, Nogales CBP Port Director Michael Humphries said. Most of the seized fentanyl with an overall street value of about $3.5 million was in white powder form, but about 2 pounds of it was contained in pills. Agents also seized nearly 395 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $1.18 million, Humphries said.
The seizure, Humphries said, had prevented an immeasurable number of doses of the drug "that could have harmed so many families." The previous record was 118 pounds seized in 2017, NBC News reports. Mexican traffickers have been increasingly smuggling fentanyl—now the deadliest drug in the US—into the United States, mostly hidden in passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers trying to head through ports of entry in the Nogales, Arizona, and San Diego, California, areas. US law enforcement officials say the illicit version of the painkiller is now seen mostly as a white powder that can be mixed with heroin for an extra kick as well as blue pills that are counterfeits of prescription drugs like oxycodone. The legal prescription form of the drug is used mostly to provide relief to cancer patients suffering unbearable pain at the end of their lives. (Fentanyl may be to blame for a recent "mass overdose" event.)