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.
The busts most likely saved lives, especially when it comes to 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,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said.
The marijuana seized was the most since 2006, and the fentanyl total set a 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 that there are more drugs on the streets but that troopers are working harder to interdict drugs being hauled across Nebraska by couriers, also known as “mules.”
Bolduc said some of the busts involved pot produced legally in states like Colorado that was diverted to the black market. Other drugs were 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.
Some of the eye-opening busts on Nebraska roadways this year were:
» More than 1,850 pounds of marijuana and other drugs seized in April in a traffic stop on Highway 81 in Fillmore County.
» A man arrested at an Omaha commercial transportation business in July who had heroin strapped to his torso and in a suitcase. Troopers and Douglas County sheriff’s deputies confiscated 11 pounds.
» 117 pounds of cocaine and suspected fentanyl found in a semitrailer truck in May in a stop on Interstate 80 near Kearney.
» More than 1,600 pounds of edible marijuana products, THC wax and marijuana in a traffic stop on I-80 near Milford in October.
1 of 20
Marijuana that fell out of a trailer on I-80 in January.
The Nebraska State Patrol seized 526 pounds of marijuana in early January after stopping a truck near Goehner, Nebraska.
218 pounds of marijuana found by State Patrol on I-80 near Lincoln on Feb. 22, 2018.
Troopers found 73 pounds of cocaine and 44 pounds of what they suspect is fentanyl hidden in the false compartment of a semi in April.
Nebraska State Patrol troopers seized 1,853 pounds of marijuana, 8,779 doses of hash oil vape pens, and 46 pounds of loose hash wax in April 18 during a traffic stop in Fillmore County.
Nebraska State Patrol troopers seized 1,853 pounds of marijuana, 8,779 doses of hash oil vape pens, and 46 pounds of loose hash wax April 18, 2018 during a traffic stop in Fillmore County.
Nebraska State Patrol investigators and deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office served a search warrant April 12 in Omaha and recovered $40,000 in drug money. The search was a follow up to a traffic stop April 5, 2018 that located $42,000 in drug money and a small amount of marijuana.
The Nebraska State Patrol found 326 pounds of marijuana and 1.4 pounds of marijuana edibles during a traffic stop in early April in Aurora. The patrol also found 55 pounds of pot in a separate stop on Interstate 80 near Giltner.
The Nebraska State Patrol seized 290 pounds of marijuana in June from a semitrailer pulled over near Kearney.
Marijuana seized in a stop in June.
A Nebraska State Patrol trooper found 115 pounds of marijuana inside a car on a transport trailer on July 25.
A search of a Chevy Tahoe in August revealed three large duffel bags containing heat-sealed packages of marijuana. The marijuana has an estimated street value of $303,000.
Troopers stopped a westbound Ford Explorer that they'd observed speeding about 15 miles west of Lincoln in October. During the stop, they became suspicious and searched the vehicle, discovering approximately $216,500 in suspected drug money.
Nebraska State Patrol Troopers seized about 300 pounds of marijuana and other THC products on Oct. 31, 2018 near Lodgepole, Nebraska.
On Oct. 27, a Nebraska State Trooper pulled over an eastbound Nissan Altima for speeding near mile marker 159 on Interstate 80 near Sutherland. During the traffic stop, the trooper conducted a search of the vehicle that revealed 45 pounds of high-grade marijuana and 1,732 THC oil vape cartridges.
At 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 28, a trooper observed an eastbound Nissan Rogue following another vehicle too closely near Dunbar on Highway 2 in Otoe County. The trooper, with assistance from Otoe County Sheriff’s deputies, found 164 pounds of high grade marijuana, 500 units of THC shatter, 500 units of THC oil and 4,700 units of THC blunts.
Marijuana busts on Oct. 25, 2018
State troopers found more than 1,600 pounds of edible marijuana products, THC wax and pot worth more than $550,000 during a traffic stop on Interstate 80 near Milford in November.
A 19-year-old from Illinois driving on I-80 was arrested Thursday after authorities found 168 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle in early December.
A Patrol K9 posing with the drugs he found after a stop in early December.