South Texas sees the largest liquid fentanyl drug bust in US history

A traffic delay south of Robstown on Wednesday has turned into a history-making drug bust. It was also the first liquid fentanyl bust in Nueces County.

NUECES COUNTY, Texas — A traffic stop on State Highway 77 south of Robstown on Wednesday morning has turned into a history-making drug bust. Authorities stopped a vehicle containing the largest amount of liquid fentanyl ever seized in the United States.

This was also the first time liquid fentanyl was found in Nueces County.

“During the search, we found a compartment built into the gas tank of this vehicle, and inside the gas tank was a modified tank that held approximately 25 pounds or 3 gallons of liquid fentanyl,” explained Mike Tamez of the Nueces County District Attorney’s Unit.

A deputy police officer from Precinct 3, working with Tamez’s unit, brought the drugs onto the street. The US border guards were also involved.

How the liquid fentanyl was hidden – and later found

Tamez said a number of things led the deputy to believe something was wrong. First, the deputy found $6,700 in cash under the vehicle’s carpet. The deputy then discovered a suspicious bolt in the vehicle’s rear floor panel, which ended in the vehicle’s gas tank.

Tamez said the deputy knew immediately something was wrong because that’s how liquid meth is sometimes hidden. But that liquid didn’t crystallize like meth did when released, and later tested negative for meth.

One official suggested it was fentanyl. This test came back positive.

“When we spoke to our federal partners to help us with this case, the only thing we had in common was that they had never heard of so much liquid fentanyl ever being hit in a traffic stop on a Texas freeway,” Tamez said.

Officers called a HAZMAT unit, and the cleanup took hours. The scene was not clear until 7 p.m

Tamez said this drug bust will make a difference because fentanyl overdoses continue to rise both in Nueces County and nationwide.

“It’s killing people,” Tamez said. “It’s an overdose and it’s killing her. It is definitely one of the most dangerous and highly addictive drugs on the market today.”

Breakdown of the amount of fentanyl found

As we previously mentioned, this is the first time fentanyl has been found in liquid form in Nueces County.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported that two milligrams of powder fentanyl can be fatal depending on the size of the person. Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez said one gallon of liquid fentanyl is equivalent to 3,785,411 milligrams of the substance. If you do the math, that’s more than five million fatal doses of fentanyl taken off the streets.

3NEWS Sr. Digital Content Producer Haley Williams contributed to this story. South Texas sees the largest liquid fentanyl drug bust in US history

Laura Coffey

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