The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) made two record-breaking fentanyl seizures one week apart at the San Ysidro Port of Entry approximately 16 miles south of San Diego, California.
The CBP announced the arrest last week of Fernando Jesus Peraza, a U.S. citizen living in Tijuana, for importing over 20,000 fentanyl pills believed to be the largest pill form seizure along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Peraza was the driver and sole occupant of a vehicle registered in his name. Federal officers contacted Peraza in the pre-primary inspection area and later referred him to secondary inspection where four packages were reportedly concealed in the passenger side rear quarter panel. The pills tested positive for fentanyl but were designed to resemble oxycodone.
At Peraza’s initial court appearance, the United States requested detention based on flight risk. Magistrate Judge Burkhardt scheduled a detention meeting for August 10 and a preliminary hearing on August 21, 2018.
“This is the biggest fentanyl pill seizure we’ve seen along the Southwest Border, and it’s likely a national record,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “I’m relieved that these pills are off the streets because of the vigilant work of law enforcement. But that relief is tempered by the fact that people are overdosing every day because they took fentanyl-laced pills just like these, oblivious to the deadly consequences.”
The record seizure and arrest of Peraza comes one week after Cristian Araujo Aguirre, 19 of Tijuana, was charged with allegedly importing 11,490 fentanyl pills, 61 pounds of methamphetamine, and 14 pounds of heroin. Aguirre was arrested on August 1, 2018, at the San Ysidro Point of Entry after the CBP found anomalies in the driver and passenger side rear door panels and spare tire on his vehicle. Upon further inspection, officers reportedly discovered the illicit cargo hidden throughout the vehicle. The pills tested also positive for fentanyl but were designed to resemble oxycodone as well. Aguirre is currently detained. His next court appearance is on August 31, 2018.
In an unrelated case, a 20-year-old Tijuana college student identified as Flavio Diego Rivera Davalos was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison based on his guilty plea admitting he smuggled approximately 77 pounds of fentanyl into the United States. Davalos was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on December 8, 2017, following one of the largest seizures of the deadly opioid along the Southwest border. According to expert opinions included in court records, 77 pounds of fentanyl would yield 800,000 potentially fatal dosage units and a market value of more than $2 million.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org