Ricketts lauds State Patrol for record drug seizures on Nebraska roadways

LINCOLN — Drug “mules” have had a rough time on Nebraska roadways in recent months.

This year has been a banner year for drug seizures on state highways and freeways, state officials announced Thursday.

More than 8,200 pounds of marijuana and 136 pounds of the powerful opioid fentanyl have been confiscated by the Nebraska State Patrol so far this year.

The busts likely saved some lives, especially when it comes to the more deadly drugs like fentanyl, officials said at a press conference.

“When the Nebraska State Patrol takes these dangerous drugs off the streets, they are keeping our people here safe and people in other states safe as well,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts.

The marijuana seized was the most since 2006, and the fentanyl total was a new state record, up from 41 pounds in 2017. Confiscations of methamphetamine, hash and heroin were also up in 2018, each topping previous highs set since 2001.

Col. John Bolduc, superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol, said the busts don’t necessarily mean there are more drugs on the streets of the state, but that troopers are working harder to interdict drugs being hauled across Nebraska by couriers, also known as “mules.”

Bolduc said that some of the busts involved pot manufactured legally in states like Colorado that is being diverted to the black market. Other drugs were strictly produced illegally for illegal sales, he said.

The busts contributed to a 30 percent increase in felony arrests by the Patrol this year, Bolduc said.

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