Border Agents Double Seizure Of Illegal Opioids Pouring In From Mexico

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Federal agents are making strides in the fight against narcotics traffickers along the southern border, increasing interdictions at U.S. ports of entry.

A recent report from Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill shows that fentanyl seizures by Border Patrol agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection increased by 72 percent in 2017. The number of overall opioid seizures nearly doubled from 579 pounds in 2013 to 1,135 pounds in 2017, a reflection of the deteriorating addiction crisis in the U.S., reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Heroin continues to be the most common opioid coming across the border, with seizures increasing by 73 percent in 2017 to 662 pounds. While the increase in confiscated drugs is encouraging, the report suggests that U.S. Customs and Border Protection remains understaffed and underfunded.

“There is no silver bullet to solving this influx of opioids, but at the very least we need to ensure that our ports are adequately staffed and equipped to deal with this problem—and right now that’s simply not the case,” said McCaskill, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of traffickers. However, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is gaining ground against drug movers taking advantage of America’s opioid scourge.

Federal officials recently scored a major victory against narcotics traffickers during an investigation of a distribution network, confiscating enough fentanyl to kill a quarter million Americans.

U.S. attorney Mike Stuart, serving the Southern District of West Virginia, announced April 17 charges against nearly 100 individuals involved in a massive drug trafficking ring operating in West Virginia and Michigan. The investigation, dubbed Operation Saigon Sunset, targeted the multi-state Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization and involved more than 200 law enforcement officers from federal, state and local levels.

Federal authorities recently charged 75 people for money laundering and narcotics trafficking, including fentanyl, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed 40 indictments March 8 in a San Diego federal court, detailing how a network of individuals conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars in drug cash between 2015 and 2018. Another 35 people were charged over the course of the DOJ’s multi-year investigation into the organization’s criminal activity.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.

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