2018 isn’t even halfway over, but so far the Nebraska State Patrol has seized more illegal drugs than in recent years. Most recently, they seized 118 pounds of pure fentanyl - one of the largest seizures of U.S. history - at a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Kearney.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, approximately 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. It can be commonly found as anesthetic in hospitals or for long-term pain management in the form of prescription Fentanyl patches. Recently, it has become very popular in sales of illicit street drugs as either a cutting agent or direct substitution for heroin or in the manufacturing of counterfeit Oxycodone pills. Illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine have been found to contain Fentanyl. This may be an intentional mix on the part of the drug trafficker or may be as a result of an accidental cross contamination as the drug trafficker may be selling Fentanyl and other illicit drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Fentanyl for limited use as an analgesic and anesthetic, but it is a Schedule II narcotic under the United States Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs have high potential for abuse.
How potent is Fentanyl?
In its purest form, fentanyl can cause a severe or potentially deadly reaction. The amount seized, worth about $20 million, was enough to kill more than 26 million people, according to government estimates.
The recent spread of fentanyl has added to the rise of drug overdose deaths across the country. The Center for Disease Control believes that illicitly manufactured fentanyl is fueling the rise in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids.
Nebraska Laws Pertaining to Fentanyl
Fentanyl falls under Nebraska Revised Statute 28-405, “Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of the following substances having a potential for abuse associated with a depressant effect on the central nervous system, including their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designations.”
Validity of Traffic Stops in Nebraska
The driver of the truck carrying the fentanyl was pulled over for driving on the shoulder.
The validity of a traffic stop depends on whether the officer’s actions were objectively reasonable in the circumstances. One reason law enforcement may pull over a vehicle is for driving on the shoulder.
Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6, 142 states that “no person shall drive on the shoulders of highways.”
The 4th Amendment guarantees freedom from unreasonable search and seizures – including bogus traffic stops. If the criminal defense attorneys to the drug case can get access dash cam videos and they may be able to assess whether police had probable cause to believe the driver committed a traffic violation and was actually driving on the shoulder of the road.
In court, the criminal attorney can argue the stop was illegal and all evidence (ex: Fentanyl) obtained during the illegal stop must be thrown out. If the criminal attorney wins on this issue the case may be dismissed.
If you were stopped and searched, contact Berry Law Firm’s aggressive drug defense lawyers to fight for you and protect your rights and your future.