Customs and Border Protection reported seizing 2,071 pounds of fentanyl from Mexico in July. This is 60% more than the previous record, set in April, and more than triple the 640 pounds seized in June.
Two milligrams of fentanyl is lethal, meaning that last month's seizures are enough to kill 470 million people, nearly 150% of the country's entire population. The Washington Times reported that about two-thirds of the fentanyl seized in July came through the southern border, in the state of California.So far this year CBP has seized a total of 10,500 pounds of fentanyl.
Fentanyl has become the narcotic of choice for traffickers entering the country from Mexico. In 2021, CBP seized more of the drug than heroin for the first time. Most of the illicit fentanyl circulating in the United States is manufactured in clandestine laboratories belonging to Mexican drug cartels, using chemicals shipped from China.
Seizures of the drug in May totaled 951 pounds, roughly quadruple the 240 pounds seized in the same month in 2021. Recent individual busts include quantities that equal entire months of seizures in previous years. In late July, Border Patrol agents seized 250 pounds of fentanyl in a single bust. Earlier that month, they discovered 100 pounds hidden in food packages as traffickers attempted to enter the country near San Diego.
The drug's potency is such that one cup of heroin is equivalent to one tablespoon of fentanyl. Because it is a much more potent drug, less is needed to fill a pill, which generates greater supplies and profits for the cartels. Two pounds of pure fentanyl can be obtained for up to $12,000 and turned into half a million pills that will sell for about $30 each, netting millions of dollars.
Deaths at historic levels
The opioid crisis in the country has reached historic highs with more than 80,000 overdose deaths last year, with the majority of these deaths caused by illicit synthetics such as fentanyl. In the year ending in February 2022, the number of overdose related deaths exceeded 100,000. The number of deaths is seven times the number recorded a decade ago.
Deaths are rising rapidly among young people who obtain drugs on social networks with counterfeit prescriptions. The pills they buy, many unknowingly, come laced with fentanyl. In 2019, 493 teens died from overdoses. In 2021, the figure was 1,146. Four out of every 10 pills seized contain lethal amounts of fentanyl.
Most lethal drugs
The number of Americans using drugs has stayed about the same in recent years, but how lethal they have become has changed, according to Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.