Largest Ever Fentanyl Shipment on U.S. Highway Seized Heading to Colorado

Authorities in Colorado recently intercepted a shipment of fentanyl, which is reportedly the largest seizure of the drug ever made on a U.S. highway.

In a statement sent to Newsweek on Friday, a spokesperson for the Colorado State Patrol said that on June 20, a state trooper conducted a traffic stop on Interstate 70 when the trooper discovered 114 pounds of fentanyl hidden inside the vehicle.

The Denver Gazette was first to report on the incident Friday and said the fentanyl was found hidden underneath the car's driver and passenger seats, which was reachable by a trap door. Newsweek also confirmed with the Colorado State Patrol spokesperson that authorities currently believe that this seizure is the largest of its kind made on a highway in the U.S.

Colorado State Patrol
State troopers in Colorado recently seized 114 pounds of fentanyl, in what they believe to be the largest seizure of the drug ever on a U.S. highway. Colorado State Patrol/Colorado State Patrol

While speaking with The Denver Gazette, Captain Bill Barkley, who oversees the Colorado State Patrol's Smuggling, Trafficking and Interdiction Unit, said that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is currently assisting with the investigation following the seizure. According to the news outlet, Barkley did not release the driver's name in order to protect the driver from cartels in Mexico. The reason for the traffic stop is currently unknown.

"It's a continued cat and mouse game between law enforcement and cartels. They actually hire people to engineer trap compartments," Barkley said. "Whether or not it's on I-70 or on I-25, or it's on secondary highways coming into our state, I would bet every hour of every day there is something."

The seizure by state troopers comes shortly after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado announced that authorities "have already seized more illicit fentanyl in the first five months of 2022 than they did in all of last year."

During the June 1 press conference, law enforcement officials presented data from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which showed that more than 2 million dosage units of fentanyl were removed from the state so far this year.

"Presently the Patrol's Interdiction Section has seized more fentanyl in the first five months of 2022 than all of 2021," Colorado State Patrol Colonel Matthew Packard said. "While I would love to tell you that our troopers have eliminated the threat of this deadly drug, what we remove is a drop in the ocean. It's cheap, it's everywhere, including a strong counterfeit market where people think they are taking other forms of pills."

According to the DEA, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that "is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin as an analgesic."

In 2019, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported an incident where "nearly 254 pounds of fentanyl with a value of approximately $3.5 million," was seized from a Mexican citizen attempting to gain entry into the country through the Port of Nogales in Arizona.

"The seizure is the largest seizure of fentanyl in CBP history," the CBP said in the press release at the time.