El Paso, Texas – Federal agents in this section of the southern border say they’ve seen a staggering 4,000 percent increase in fentanyl seizures over the last three years.
Those busts are not at ports of entry, where most smuggled drugs are typically found. The Border Patrol says the rising amount of fentanyl is being found in the desert – transported by increasingly brazen smugglers who are exploiting stretched federal resources.
In 2018, the Border Patrol in the El Paso sector found just one pound of fentanyl outside ports of entry. In 2019, two pounds. In 2020, nine.
During the 2021 fiscal year, agents have found 41 pounds so far – a dramatic rise that experts attribute to the increasing role in drug cartels producing the illicit drug themselves with raw materials from China. The sharp rise from 2018 to 2020 suggests the coronavirus pandemic did not artificially inflate the 2021 numbers.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal, depending on a person’s body size. One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people. A kilogram is roughly 2.2 pounds.