Customs and Border Patrol officers this week reported a 1,066% increase in the seizure of the illegal, and deadly, drug fentanyl in south Texas.
"Faced with significantly less traffic due to travel restrictions imposed for public health reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the drug and contraband threat remained the same and our frontline CBP officers rose to the challenge to meet that threat head on," Randy J. Howe, director of field operations in the Laredo Field Office, said in a press release Wednesday.
"Our significant gains in fentanyl and cocaine seizures underscore the deadly nature of the contraband we encounter, the need to utilize Personal Protective Equipment to protect our officers and our continued resolve to carry out our vital border security mission.”
According to the agency, CBP officers at eight South Texas ports of entry seized "a significant" amount of narcotics, cash, weapons, as well as recorded "numerous" immigration violations during Fiscal Year 2021 from Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021.
Not only was there a 1,066% increase in fentanyl, but a 98% increase in the amount of cocaine confiscated during the same period.
The more than 87,000 pounds of narcotics seized by officers at the border has an estimated street value of $786 million, the agency said.
Included in that number was 41,713 pounds of marijuana, 8,592 pounds of cocaine, 33,777 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,215 pounds of heroin, and 588 pounds of fentanyl.
In addition, the officers confiscated $10.4 million in "unreported" cash, 463 weapons, and 84,863 rounds of ammunition.
More than 2 million illegal migrants have crossed the border since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021 and reversed some of former President Donald Trump's policies.
Fentanyl, a Schedule II controlled substance that is like morphine but about 100 times more potent, is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The deadly drug is manufactured in secret foreign labs and then smuggled across the southern border through Mexico, the agency said.
One kilogram of fentanyl could kill 500,000 people. There was a 55.6% increase in American synthetic overdose deaths and a 38.1% increase in overall opioid overdose deaths in the last year, according to the DEA.
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