Jan 8, 2022 - Health

Border patrol reports 1,066% increase in fentanyl seized in south Texas

CBP and guest
A man shows his proof of vaccination to a Customs and Border Protection agent atop the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry in downtown El Paso, Texas, on Nov. 8. Photo: Paul Ratje/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 1,066% increase in fentanyl seized in south Texas during fiscal year 2021, the agency said this week.

Driving the news: Border patrol officers at eight ports of entry from Brownsville to Del Rio seized 87,652 pounds of narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine and fentanyl with an estimated estimated street value of $786 million.

  • The agency seized 41,713 pounds of marijuana, 8,592 pounds of cocaine, 33,777 pounds of methamphetamine, 1,215 pounds of heroin and 588 pounds of fentanyl from Oct. 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021.
  • "Because of its potency and low cost, drug dealers have been mixing fentanyl with other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine, increasing the likelihood of a fatal interaction," according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The big picture: The new figures comes as America's substance use crisis has spiraled over the course of the pandemic, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • An estimated 100,306 people in the United States died from a drug overdose in a 12-month period ending last April, according to provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in November.
  • That's the first time drug overdose fatalities reached six figures in a 12-month period and it's roughly a 28% increase over the same period one year earlier, Axios' Jacob Knutson reports.

What they're saying: "Our significant gains in fentanyl and cocaine seizures underscore the deadly nature of the contraband we encounter, the need to utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect our officers and our continued resolve to carry out our vital border security mission," said Randy J. Howe, director of field operations in the Laredo Field Office.

Go deeper: America's substance use crisis has spiraled

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