Seizures of synthetics rise, prices drop as Mexican cartels step up exports to US
EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Seizures of fentanyl on the Texas-Mexico border and within the state continue to rise, according to law enforcement officials.
The most worrying part of this trend is that Mexican drug cartels are turning the often deadly substance into pills designed to look like any other prescription drug, they say.
“A year ago, fentanyl was barely on our radar,” said Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn. “The information I have since yesterday is that it flooded our area.”
Waybourn was in South Texas on Wednesday as Governor Greg Abbott and former President Trump toured the unfinished border wall and railed against the threat posed to the state and country by illegal immigration. Some of the claims, particularly by Trump, were exaggerated or false. But the fact is that designer drug seizures linked to thousands of fatal overdoses in the United States have been rapidly increasing at both state and federal levels.
The Texas Department of Public Safety reports an eightfold increase in fentanyl seizures comparing January to April 2020 with the same period in 2021.
The U.S. Border Patrol’s El Paso area also reports a 355% increase in fentanyl seizures this year over last and an increase of more than 4,000% over 2018.
Mexican drug cartels often coerce migrants into smuggling drugs into the United States. “The cartels are finding ways to intimidate migrants and make them illegally transport narcotics,” El Paso chief patrol officer Gloria I. Chavez told NBC News this week.
Waybourn, whose Fort Worth office is 500 miles north of the US-Mexico border, says what is happening in his county shows the harmful reach of drug cartels in Central America.
“Even the low-level dealers have large amounts of fentanyl and not only do they use it in a pill press (machine), which makes it look like a safe drug for young people, but they also mix it with pills. ‘heroin and methamphetamine and other drugs,’” the sheriff said, adding that the price of a gram of fentanyl has gone from $50 to $15-$20 in his county since January.
Waybourn said fentanyl came from Mexico and called drug cartels enemy number one of US law enforcement. He also urged parents to help contain the opioid overdose epidemic that claims 70,000 lives in the United States each year.
“We need to draw a line in the sand to protect our children and we also need our parents…to invade their children’s space and know what they are doing on social media and who they are connecting with,” said the sheriff. “We need everyone’s help or they (the parents) are going to walk into that room and find their 15 or 16 year old is gone.”
DPS Director Steve McCraw said six of Mexico’s eight drug cartels and 16 of their associated street gangs are active on the Texas-Mexico border. “They apply all elements of military force, including command and control, logistics, intelligence and information operations, and the application of lethal force to support criminal operations,” McCraw said. . “They are also recruiting our children and our children in Mexico to support their operation on both sides of the border. They have formed partnerships with the most vicious gangs in Texas and the country. […] If it’s (cocaine), methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin, Mexican cartels definitely own it.
Visit the BorderReport.com homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news on issues along the US-Mexico border.