The lethal synthetic drug fentanyl has been increasingly trafficked into the U.S., and, in fiscal year 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a 134% increase in seizures of the illicit drug.
Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and a lethal dose is about 2 milligrams, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has recently warned about the increase in fentanyl-laced pills cartels in Mexico are manufacturing with chemicals provided by China.
The drug is fueling an overdose epidemic in the U.S., and is the leading killer 18-45 year olds nationwide.
CBP spokesperson Justin Long told the DCNF that the seizures occurred at ports of entry, where there’s been a 400% increase in fentanyl seizures since 2018. Long said that with the pandemic border restrictions, CBP officers were focused on commercial and passenger environments and that the seizures are a show of CBP’s success in intercepting illegal activity.
“Criminal organizations continue to evolve their smuggling operations, and these seizures are indicative of CBP’s efforts to disrupt cross-border criminal activity,” Long said, adding that CBP utilizes many resources and technological tools at its disposal.
“CBP continues to modernize its facilities to strengthen its border security mission with these and other security measures that aid the detection and seizure of illicit drugs,” he said.
Former DEA Special Agent in Charge for El Paso Kyle Williamson, who retired in Sept. 2021, told the DCNF that while he was working in the agency there were huge increases in fentanyl seizures, and that he expects that trend to continue unless there is cooperation between Mexico and the U.S..
“When I was Special Agent in Charge in El Paso, we saw fentanyl seizures double year over year in excess of 100%,” Williamson said. “This also coincided with increase seizures of methamphetamine. This deadly trend became very evident in 2021 when we went from one out of every four pills laced with fentanyl having a deadly dose (2mg) to two out of every five.”
“Based on current numbers I believe this deadly trend will continue in 2022,” he added. “It is imperative that the government of Mexico works with the United States to stop this deadly trend.”
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