According to ABC News, the agency has seized 6,494 pounds of the powerful narcotic as of April of this year, compared to 4,776 pounds in all of 2020. The network points out the amount of fentanyl seized at the border has continued to increase since 2018, when agents reportedly confiscated nearly 2,300 pounds of the drug.
“CBP’s Office of Field Operations has seen a slight increase in narcotic seizures at its southern border ports of entry in fiscal year 2021,” a CBP spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News. “As cross-border travel shifted to essential-travel only, criminal organizations shifted their operations as well. CBP has seen an increase in seizures amongst U.S. citizens and in the commercial environment as both demographics are exempt from the travel restrictions.”
NPR reports the number of U.S. opioid-related deaths topped 90,000 in the 12-month period ending in September 2020, as it appears more and more street drugs are being laced with synthetic opioids, such as methadone, tramadol, and fentanyl, which is said to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Experts told the outlet the rise in fentanyl overdoses may have been triggered by pressure sparked by pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control states about 13 percent of people surveyed admitted they started or increased their consumption of illicit substances during the lockdowns.
“People don’t realize how dangerous it is,” said ABC News contributor Dr. Darien Sutton, before touching on the fentanyl seizure report. “When you talk about that amount, how many communities and people that will affect and how many deaths that will be associated with (more than 6,000 pounds of fentanyl) you can’t even comprehend it just because it’s not fathomable.”
Although fentanyl seizures have spiked this year, the CBP reports interceptions of methamphetamine and cocaine decreased by 16 and 41 percent, respectively.