'Dangerous trend': 3.1M fentanyl pills seized at Ariz. border in one month

Over the weekend, officers seized 1.57 million fentanyl pills, 114 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin and 2 pounds of fentanyl powder


By Danyelle Khmara
The Arizona Daily Star

PORT OF NOGALES, Ariz. — The amount of fentanyl pills seized at the southern border in Arizona drastically increased in August, from already historically high numbers.

Over the weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Port of Nogales made two significant seizures. The combined total was 1.57 million fentanyl pills, 114 pounds of cocaine, 13 pounds of heroin and 2 pounds of fentanyl powder, according to Customs and Border Protection.

The majority of the fentanyl pills and cocaine were concealed in a floor compartment of a commercial tractor trailer, and the rest were removed from the floor compartment of a separate vehicle.

Director of Field Operations Guadalupe Ramirez called it a "massive seizure" in a tweet Monday.

In August alone, officers at the Nogales port have seized 3.1 million fentanyl pills, "highlighting the dangerous trend of deadly narcotics smuggling," Ramirez's tweet said.

More than 3 million in one month shows a large increase to an already record-setting trend. Toward the end of July, Nogales port seizures had exceeded 5 million fentanyl pills so far this fiscal year, which only had two months to go, according to Nogales Port Director Michael Humphries.

There are more fentanyl pills being seized in Arizona than in other Southwest border states due to the fact that a huge producer of the drug, the Sinaloa cartel, uses routes that come through Arizona and are intended to be distributed throughout the country, Humphries told the Star in July.

The amount of fentanyl smuggled across the border has increased as Americans' addiction to it has increased.

Nationwide, fentanyl seizures increased 203% in July over June while cocaine seizures decreased 56%, according to Customs and Border Protection data released last week.

Ports of entry in Arizona saw record-breaking amounts of fentanyl seized in July, at 567 pounds, a 318% increase from June. Cocaine seizures at ports in July slightly decreased in Arizona at 60 pounds.

At more than 2,600 pounds, the amount of fentanyl seizures at Arizona ports has increased 34% over what it was this time last year. And more than 87% of fentanyl this year has been seized at ports of entry rather than by Border Patrol in the field.

DOWNLOAD: Evolving strategies to win the war on opioids

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(c)2022 The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, Ariz.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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