Fentanyl seizures across the US southern border continue to soar, with 9,400 pounds of the killer drug seized between October and December, a 241% year-over-year increase, according to federal figures.
The synthetic opioid continues to poison the country and smugglers are avoiding other drugs to introduce it, with fentanyl seizures up 52% month-on-month in December, while heroin seizures and methamphetamine increased by only 1% and 4%, respectively.
Most interceptions are made at points of entry into the country, where people and vehicles are checked and inspected.
A recent large bust in Eagle Pass, Texas, had an estimated street value of $173,040, according to Customs and Border Protection.
During this transport, officers found over seven pounds of fentanyl concealed inside the liner of a cooler in a vehicle.
A lethal dose of the drug, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, can be as low as 2mg – enough to fit on the tip of a pencil. Since it is also used to reduce other types of drugs, it leads to more overdoses. In 2022, deaths from synthetic opiates averaged more than 70,000 per month, according to official data.
An area spanning Texas, New Mexico and Arizona has become a hotspot for drug trafficking, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson told The Post.
“Just based on cartel activity – you have the Juarez cartel, then the Sinaloa [Cartel]Texas DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez said, adding, “They pretty much control the entire area west of the border…from El Paso to Arizona.”
As part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, the state has invested money in cracking down on smugglers and increased interior patrols to intercept drugs. These were initially successful with enough fentanyl to potentially kill millions seized by authorities.
“For us to seize over 356 million lethal doses statewide [since March 2021]that’s important, because we don’t have the luxury of being at a point of entry and having x-ray machines,” Olivarez explained.
However, he added that cartels are constantly changing their methods of smuggling drugs into the country, turning law enforcement efforts into a game of cat and mouse.
“We know it’s happening because we see the number of people dying every day,” he said. “We know it’s getting into other states, so we know it’s getting away from us. We’re just trying to figure out what tactics they’re using.