Border Patrol agents at a highway immigration checkpoint near Nogales, Arizona, arrested a man suspected of smuggling fentanyl by taping the deadly drugs to his body. The agents discovered the contraband hidden under the clothing of a U.S citizen Monday evening.
Agents’ suspicions were spiked when a K-9 alerted during a routine open-air sniff search. Several packages taped to the man’s legs and torso — containing 5.4 pounds of fentanyl with a street value exceeding $75,000. The incident was turned over to the DEA.
This is the second incident involving fentanyl smuggling at a Border Patrol highway checkpoint in January. Near Salton City, California, agents discovered boxes of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the trunk of a vehicle during a routine search. A female driver and passenger were arrested for smuggling nearly eight pounds of fentanyl with a street value of $115,375.00 and 39.5 pounds of methamphetamine valued at more than $60,000.00.
Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are experiencing a record-breaking increase in the smuggling of hard narcotics at and around ports of entry as Mexican cartels take advantage of the migrant crisis raging since January 2021. Although some seizures and arrests are made at illegal crossing points, most hard narcotics are smuggled through ports of entry.
As the Border Patrol struggles to deal with the increase in migrant flow between ports of entry, CBP officers at ports of entry have been re-assigned when needed to assist in caring for migrants at Border Patrol facilities.
According to Customs and Border Protection, fentanyl seizures during Fiscal Year 2021 were roughly 100% greater than 2020. Local and state law enforcement are also encountering the highly organized and sophisticated distribution networks. The proliferation of the fentanyl and laced pills negatively impacts communities far from the border.
The increase in fentanyl smuggling is worrisome to authorities due it’s lethal potency. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fentanyl is the primary driver in overdose deaths in the United States. More than 96,000 overdose deaths were recorded in a 12-month period ending in March 2021.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.