A judge sentenced a Tijuana college student who was busted for attempting to smuggle nearly 80 pounds of the synthetic opioid fentanyl through a U.S.-Mexico port of entry to seven years behind bars Monday.
Flavio Diego Rivera Davalos, a 20-year-old from Tijuana, Mexico, drove a 2010 Ford Focus stuffed with 77.82 pounds of fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, to the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego on Dec. 9, 2017. A drug sniffing dog soon alerted agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the presence of drugs in the trunk, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.
A subsequent search yielded 31 packages of fentanyl, enough to kill nearly 1 million people. The massive bust represents the largest-ever seizure of fentanyl at a U.S. port of entry in history. Rivera, a visa holder, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in March to narcotics trafficking charges. (RELATED: Heroin Dealer Faces Life In Prison After Pleading Guilty To Causing 27 Opioid Overdoses, Including Nine That Proved Fatal)
“Here, vigilant law enforcement agents took 800,000 fatal fentanyl doses off the streets, effectively preventing defendant’s deadly fentanyl stash from resulting in thousands of devastating overdoses,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns sentenced him to seven years and four months in federal prison, ignoring the defense’s request for reduced jail time for Rivera.
Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of traffickers, however, authorities are stepping up efforts to interdict the dangerous substances, particularly opioids.
Opioid seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents nearly doubled from 579 pounds in 2013 to 1,135 pounds in 2017, a recent report from Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill shows.
Heroin continues to be the most common opioid coming across the border, with seizures increasing by 73 percent in 2017 to 662 pounds. Seizures of fentanyl, a synthetic painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, rose by 72 percent in 2017.
Drug overdoses, fueled by opioids, are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016.
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