Border agents report 1,066% increase in fentanyl seizures in south Texas last year

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Agents at eight ports from Brownsville to Del Rio seized 87,652 pounds of narcotics, including 588 pounds of the painkiller fentanyl, CBP said in a news release.

The street value of the drugs — which also includes marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin — is believed to be $786 million, CBP said.

Often, people buy other medicines without knowing they contain fentanyl. Just a quarter of a milligram is enough to kill a person.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said at a White House news conference in November that the U.S. government has seized enough fentanyl this year to give every American a lethal dose. She called the overdose epidemic in the U.S. a “national crisis” that “regardless of geography and continues to worsen.”

The CBP report covers drugs seized in fiscal year 2021 from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.

Pandemic could make America’s drug epidemic worse

The U.S. drug epidemic broke out while Americans were locked down during the coronavirus pandemic.
From May 2020 to April 2021, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a new record — up nearly 30 percent from a year earlier and nearly doubling in the past five years. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl — 50-100 times stronger than morphine — accounted for most of the deaths, about 64,000.

The drug epidemic has grown in tandem with the Covid-19 pandemic, killing some 509,000 people over the same period.

“In a crisis of this magnitude, those who are already on medication may take more and those who are recovering may relapse. It’s something we’ve seen and maybe could have predicted,” said National Drug Abuse The institute’s director, Dr. Nora Volkow, told CNN in an earlier report.
Drug overdose deaths top 100,000 a year for the first time, fueled by fentanyl, CDC data show

Before Covid-19, the growing use of synthetic drugs caught the attention of experts, but the pandemic may have exacerbated the problem, Volkow said.

Easier-to-manufacture and more concentrated synthetics are also more efficiently smuggled due to restrictions on international travel, she added.

The chemicals used to make the drug are usually shipped from China to the United States or Mexico. Mexican cartels smuggle drugs into the United States. The drug can be mailed in shipments of less than one kilogram.
While the Chinese government’s crackdown on fentanyl has slowed this approach, India is another source.
“Fentanyl is being mixed with other illicit drugs to increase the drug’s potency, sold as powders and nasal sprays, and increasingly compressed into pills that look like legal prescription opioids,” DEA’s Fentan Ni reports.

“Without official oversight or quality control, these counterfeit drugs often contain lethal doses of fentanyl without any of the promised drugs,” the report said.

The Biden administration has poured $4 billion from the Covid-19 relief package known as America Rescue to fight drug overdose deaths, including expanding services for substance use disorders and mental health.

Biden told reporters in November that his administration was also “working to make health insurance more accessible and affordable for all Americans so that more people who need it can get it.”

CNN’s Amanda Jackson and Zachary B. Wolf contributed to this report.

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