The amount of synthetic opioids seized by Border Patrol has increased from roughly 2 pounds to nearly 1,500 pounds in the past three years, Customs and Border Protection deputy commissioner Ron Vitello announced Tuesday.
The seizures of the deadly drugs come amid an increase of drug overdoses nationwide.
“We’ve also seen a significant increase in the seizure of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids over the past three years, from roughly two pounds in fiscal year 2013 to nearly 1,500 pounds in fiscal year 2017,” Vitello said at a press conference. The CBP official said that the drugs were seized while travelling through international mail and express consignment facilities.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Around 20,100 people died from the drug and its analogues in 2016, while 15,400 people died from heroin and 14,400 people died from prescription opioids, according to government statistics.
James Hunt, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s New York division, told The Washington Post, “The cartels realize that fentanyl is much more profitable than heroin.”
The Post report noted, “Narcotics agents have seized more than 350 pounds of pure fentanyl in New York City, 10 times as much as they did in 2016.”