May 25 (UPI) -- Nebraska police say they've seized 118 pounds of pure fentanyl in one of the largest drug seizures in U.S. history.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts honored the Nebraska State Patrol and specific troopers in a ceremony Thursday for seizing 118 pounds of fentanyl in April.
The seizure marked the largest fentanyl bust in the history of Nebraska, Nebraska State Patrol said on Twitter. The drugs were valued at $20 million.
Nebraska State Patrol Col. John Bolduc said state troopers had been educated about the drug trade and the nexus of drug trafficking and other crimes.
"Being diligent and being observant and being visible, not only on the Interstate but in other parts of our state ... has produced these kind of results," Bolduc said during the ceremony.
Authorities seized the fentanyl during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 80. Troopers "became suspicious of criminal activity" during the stop and searched the vehicle and discovered a false compartment in the empty trailer.
Police first believe they found cocaine, but later testing showed it was fentanyl.
The driver of the truck, Felipe Genao-Minaya, 46, and passenger, Nelson Nunez, 52, both of New Jersey, were arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, the Nebraska State Patrol said in a statement.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is often mixed with heroin or cocaine as a combination product, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to estimates by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the 118 pounds of fentanyl seized could kill about 26 million people, as a dosage of 2 milligrams of the drug can be lethal for most people.
"This work is saving lives," Bolduc said of the drug seizures. "We can't even extrapolate out the number of lives that this particular bust has impacted."