McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Despite drug seizures at their lowest level in four years, the amount of fentanyl seized at the border continues to skyrocket, new federal data shows.
The total number of drugs by weight intercepted by US Customs and Border Protection officers in December increased by 17.5% compared to November, according to CBP.
- 52% increase in seizures of fentanyl.
- The number of cocaine seizures increased by 32%.
- The amount of seized heroin increased by 1%.
The number of methamphetamines seized in December also decreased by 4%.
However, since the beginning of the fiscal year, the number of drug seizures by CBP officers in ports, border guard agents patrolling between ports, and agents of air and maritime operations has been gradually increasing.
This includes about $900,000 worth of drugs seized in two incidents over the past few days at the port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas, according to CBP.
But the total number of drugs seized in December – 42,100 pounds – was the lowest by weight seized in December since officers and agents seized 92,500 pounds through 2020, according to CBP data.
However, this shows a steady trend from drug cartels and transnational criminal organizations that continue to trade drugs across the southwestern border, especially the lethal fentanyl.
So far, 9,400 pounds of fentanyl have been seized in fiscal year 2023, which began in October. That’s more than half of the total 14,700 pounds of fentanyl seized for the entire fiscal year 2022, according to CBP. This is also a 241% increase in fentanyl seizures compared to the first three months of fiscal year 2022.
Stopping the flow of fentanyl across the border was the goal of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s state-funded border security initiative, Operation Lone Star.
“Operation Lone Star continues to fill the dangerous gaps left by the Biden administration’s refusal to secure the border. Otherwise, every person detained or arrested and every ounce of drugs seized would have reached communities across Texas and across the country due to President Biden’s open border policy,” the governor’s office said in a statement Friday – the same day that the CBP published monthly operational statistics for December.
In November, Abbott ordered the heads of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas War Department to expand border security efforts, which include building a state-funded border wall and deploying thousands of Texas National Guard and Texas DPS troops along the border.
“The number of drug and human traffickers you have arrested is astounding. The wave of fentanyl and the criminals you stopped from entering the United States across the border is shocking. I thank you for the unprecedented work done by your guards and soldiers during Operation Lone Star. This work must continue and must now be expanded,” Abbott wrote November 16 to DPS Director Colonel Steve McCraw and Mayor General Thomas Sulzer.
On Friday, CBP officers at Eagle Pass found 4.7 pounds of cocaine hidden in the quarter panel of a car at the entrance to Eagle Pass. The car was driving south to Mexico and the drugs were valued at $62,993, according to CPB.
On Sunday, CBP officers diverted the vehicle to the Eagle Pass Port of Entry for a secondary inspection after it was tagged by the canine unit. Officers found 13.8 pounds of fentanyl, 13.8 pounds of heroin, 16.5 pounds of cocaine in the torque converter and brake booster of a 2021 Nissan Rogue, they said. According to CBP, the retail value of the drugs was estimated at $835,023.
“Eagle Pass Port of Entry Officers have stepped up drug interdiction and enhanced border security to combat drug smuggling attempts,” Michael Martinez, Acting Director of Eagle Pass Port of Entry, said in a statement. “Through dedicated and proactive law enforcement, CBP officers are helping to dismantle human trafficking organizations and prevent their illegal products from entering the United States.”
Sandra Sanchez can be contacted at [email protected]