There has been an “alarming uptick” in the seizure of hard drugs like fentanyl at the southern border, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said Monday — with a 225% increase in seizures of the deadly drug compared to the same time last year.
CBP Deputy Commissioner Robert Perez told reporters that it intercepted nearly 50,000 pounds of narcotics last month, 39,000 of which were seized along the southern border.
“Because of restrictions on non-essential travel over our land border, drug smugglers continue to adapt, using trucks, tractor trailers, and other commercial conveyances to use larger loads of narcotics, rather than continuing to use in greater amounts smaller loads in private vehicles and pedestrian traffic,” he said.
Perez said there was a “distressing trend” in the amount of hard drugs the agency continues to seize.
In November, law enforcement seized 8,500 pounds of cocaine, 23 percent higher than in November 2019. Methamphetamine seizures, meanwhile, were up 43 percent compared to last year.
But there has been an even more dramatic increase in the seizures of fentanyl, which has been one of the hard drugs driving the opioid crisis in the U.S. CBP agents seized 800 pounds of fentanyl in November — a 225% increase from Nov. 2019.
“That is an alarming uptick that can be attributed to growing numbers of fentanyl facilities and production being operated by the cartels in Mexico,” he said.
Perez highlighted the work CBP agents do in protecting Americans from drugs entering the country, noting that CBP officers and others were seizing drugs even on Thanksgiving — including in Texas where a tractor-trailer was found containing 36 pounds of heroin and 381 pounds of cocaine worth $3.7 million.
He also praised Mexican authorities for what he described as “unprecedented” cooperation in stopping the threat from across the border.
“They continue to effect interdictions and seizures on their side of the border and the collaboration and sharing of intelligence in this regard is unrelenting and again unprecedented, and we appreciate that collaboration, very much so,” he said.
Earlier this year acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told Fox News that drug cartels and trafficking networks at the southern border are seeking to exploit the coronavirus crisis.
“As for the cartels and drug trafficking networks, we know that there is no ‘day off’ for them,” he said. “They continue to exploit the current health pandemic by attempting to move counterfeit products into our country, yet we continue to seize large amounts of dangerous and deadly drugs along our nation’s borders.”