Border officials seized 4,000% more fentanyl in 2021 than in 2018 as the border crisis continues, NBC News reported Tuesday.
Cartels have taken advantage of increased federal resources allocated for migrant encounters to smuggle fentanyl into the U.S. between ports of entry, according to NBC News. Border officials have found 41 pounds of fentanyl in fiscal year 2021, compared with nine pounds in 2020, two pounds in 2019 and one pound in 2018.
“For the first time, we’re starting to see these tactics where fentanyl is being smuggled between ports of entry,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Gloria Chavez said, NBC News reported. “Cartels are very creative. They find ways to intimidate migrants and find ways to illegally have them transport that narcotic into the United States.”
— Port Director of Laredo (@CBPPortDirLRD) June 25, 2021
Cartels have been manufacturing fentanyl using raw materials imported from China, experts said, according to NBC News. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal to the average person and one kilogram, about 2.2 pounds, can kill up to 500,000 people, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Cartels reportedly favor fentanyl because it’s easier to smuggle into the U.S. and highly potent and profitable, DEA officials told NBC News.
Officials reported an 85% increase in the number of methamphetamine seizures between ports of entry in 2021, NBC News reported. Fentanyl seizures at ports of entry increased 719% and methamphetamine was up 781%.
Border officials in Sunland Park, New Mexico, typically encounter single adult men who attempt to evade apprehension instead of migrant families seeking asylum, according to NBC News. Drug cartels have taken advantage of the increase in migrants illegally entering the U.S. seeking asylum to move narcotics into the country, NBC reported.
“They assault the agent because they want to get away,” Chavez said, according to NBC News. “It’s the only obstacle between them and freedom into the United States.”