Police in Connecticut’s smallest city pulled off a massive drug bust on Wednesday, stopping a truck loaded with about 55 pounds of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.The drugs, worth approximately $1.5 million on the street, according to the DEA, were discovered in the cab of a tractor trailer during a routine traffic stop near Derby, Connecticut, about 10 miles west of New Haven.A spokesperson for the Derby Police Department declined to discuss the circumstances that led to the bust, citing an ongoing investigation, but a report from local news broadcaster WTNH identified the truck driver as 47-year-old Erick Escalante, of Arizona. The case has reportedly been turned over to the DEA, which reportedly said it was one of the five largest fentanyl seizures on record in the U.S.
Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than pure heroin, and authorities have blamed it for fueling the surge in fatal overdoses across the U.S. in recent years. Just three milligrams of fentanyl — an amount equivalent to a few grains of salt — is enough to kill the average adult male, meaning Wednesday’s 55-pound seizure involved about 8.3 million lethal doses. That’s enough fentanyl to kill every single one of Connecticut’s 3.6 million residents — twice.Deadly fentanyl overdoses increased 72 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to new data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that more than 33,000 Americans died last year from opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers.The DEA says Mexican drug cartels import fentanyl or the precursors needed to manufacture it from China, then smuggle it into the U.S., often mixed with heroin.Read more on fentanyl:America’s new deadliest drug is fentanylUltra-potent synthetic heroin is spreading across AmericaThe opioid crisis might be even worse than it seems because doctors are misreporting deaths