CHICAGO— U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP) officers at the Chicago International Mail Branch (IMF) have seen a lot of prescription pills come through the mail- while some are legal, many are not. From January 1 to June 30, officers have seized 14,021 unapproved prescriptions. Of these seizures, 1,785 parcels contained Tapentadol pills, an opioid, and another 566 shipments contained Carisoprodol, a dangerous pain medication.
Tapentadol is a Schedule II narcotic, and has a potency comparable to Tramadol and morphine, and its effects mirror Oxycodone. In the last six months, officers have seized 640,582 of these pills weighing 785 pounds, a sharp increase from the 110 pounds seized in all fiscal year 2020. The Tapentadol are mostly being shipped from India, come in various dosages, and are destined for address across the U.S. These pills would have had a street value of $1.3 million. This trend shows no signs of slowing down. During the first few days of July, CBP officers intercepted a package arriving from India containing 3,100 pills.
“I am very proud of our officers,” said Lafonda Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago. “The dedication and vigilance of our officers prevented these illicit prescriptions from hitting our streets and infecting our communities.”
And Tapentadol isn’t the only prescription CBP officers are seeing a lot of, 688,500 tablets or 1,245 pounds of the medication Carisoprodol have been in seized in the same six-month timeframe. Carisoprodol is a schedule IV prescription used to treat musculoskeletal pain. Carisoprodol has serious side-effects to include addiction and seizures. Additionally, when mixed with opiates, this prescription could cause users to aspirate while they are unconscious, and Carisoprodol is sometimes mixed with date-rape drugs. The parcels containing this prescription also mostly came from India, were in various dosages, and were heading to addresses across the U.S. These parcels would have had a street value of $1.7 million.
“Our officers are exceptional at what they do and are part of the best frontline defense in the world,” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director-Chicago. “Their skill and determination saved lives by taking hundreds of pounds of these dangerous prescriptions off the streets.”
CBP conducts operations at ports of entry throughout the United States, and regularly screens arriving international passengers and cargo for narcotics, weapons, and other restricted or prohibited products. CBP strives to serve as the premier law enforcement agency enhancing the Nation’s safety, security, and prosperity through collaboration, innovation, and integration.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.