Honduras seizes nearly half tonne of fentanyl in first opioid bust

Honduras seizes nearly half tonne of fentanyl in first opioid bust


The synthetic drug is estimated to be 50 times stronger than heroin, 100 times than morphine

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TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduran police discovered nearly half a metric ton of the synthetic drug fentanyl hidden in a shipping container, officials said on Wednesday, in the first such seizure of the opioid in the Central American country.

Security Minister Gustavo Sanchez said in a social media post that the record haul of 493 kilogrammes (1,087 pounds) of fentanyl came on a ship that originated in Britain and arrived at the Cortes port, due north of the industrial city of San Pedro Sula, on Honduras' Atlantic Coast.

"It's enough to flood Central America," Sanchez wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Police are investigating whether Honduras was the ship's final destination, or if it was only meant to be a stop on its way elsewhere, according to officials.

Honduras has for years been a transit point for cocaine trafficked from South American nations including Colombia and Bolivia en route to the United States, but its role in the fentanyl trade is poorly understood.

Former President Juan Orlando Hernandez is awaiting trial in the United States on cocaine trafficking charges following his extradition last year, in a case that prosecutors said shows how the Honduran government had been closely involved in the drug trade.

The seized fentanyl was packed into dozens of sealed brown cardboard boxes, according to police photos that also showed anti-narcotic officers wearing hazardous material suits and gas masks.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is estimated to be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. The United States has an opioid epidemic where the CDC recorded 75 per cent of nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid.