OMAHA – One of the nation’s largest fentanyl seizures was made in Omaha on Wednesday.
Drug Enforcement Agency agents spotted an unattended bag at the Amtrak station in Omaha. The agents asked several people if the bag was theirs, including a 27-year-old California man named Edgar Navarro-Aguirre. At first Navarro-Aguirre claimed the bag was not his, but later told authorities it belonged to a friend.
Law enforcement found nearly 15 kilos, or 33 pounds of the deadly drug fentanyl in the bag. The drug was in 15 vacuum sealed bundles, and had a street value of approximately $15 million. Lt. Jason Scott with the Nebraska State Patrol claims seizures of the drug are on the rise, but this by far is the largest they have dealt with.
“It’s not our first significant seizure of fentanyl in the state of Nebraska. However it is by far the largest. I mean, I would just guess that our biggest to date might have been a kilo or two,” said Lt. Scott. “And we’re way beyond that with almost 40 pounds. And, yes, it is on the rise. Ten years ago, no one knew what fentanyl was.”
Navarro-Aguirre claimed he was traveling from Colorado to Chicago to see his sister, but he boarded the train in California. He was taken into custody, and it is not currently known if he was in possession of the bag the entire time, or if he was picking it up in Omaha to transport east. Investigators believe the bag was being transported to New Jersey or New York. Fentanyl is 40 to 50 times more potent than heroine. Lt. Scott says the amount of the drug found at the station could have killed anywhere from thousands to a million people.
“And now we have officers trained on the road that are getting kilo quantities shipped across I-80, it is a corridor, coming in contact with it that are trained to recognize that and deal with it. Those seizures are up. I don’t think we’re at the level that Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and those places are, but it’s a stop like this that prevents people in Ohio and New York from being poisoned. I mean this could have affected thousands of people, no doubt.”
Navarro-Aguirre is charged with knowingly and intentionally possessing, with the intent to distribute, 400 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of fentanyl, which is a Schedule II controlled substance. The investigation is still ongoing. The case was investigated by the DEA and the Nebraska State Patrol as part of an interdiction squad that also includes the Omaha Police Department and the Douglas County Attorney’s Office.