Federal officials announced that April 2023 represented the highest level of fentanyl seizures yet recorded. According to Customs and Border Protections (CBP), the U.S. seized more than a ton and a half of the synthetic opioid in April, immediately preceding the end of Title 42.
So far in fiscal year 2023, the federal government seized more of the opioid than during the entire previous fiscal year.
The 17,200 pounds of seized fentanyl so far in this fiscal year dwarfed the previous high of 14,700 pounds the year prior, 11,200 in 2021 and 4,900 in 2020.
In 2013, American officials seized just two pounds of the substance.
Disturbing news coming out of Nogales, AZ.
This recent seizure of over 1.6 million fentanyl pills & 4.75 lbs of fentanyl powder highlights the grave threat posed by drug smuggling through our open southern border. https://t.co/pdpkkgKq6Q
— Senator Bill Hagerty (@SenatorHagerty) May 23, 2023
The concern over the flow of drugs into the United States comes during a particularly sensitive period both regarding border security and drug overdoses.
The record-breaking opioid seizures occurred as the Biden administration prepared for the end of Title 42, a Trump-era immigration restriction.
The White House ended the program earlier this month, leading to a significant number of crossings at the southern border. In addition, the end of the policy has led to estimates of up to 13,000 migrants per day crossing into the U.S.
Recently released figures indicate that drug overdoses reached an all-time high in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
According to the CDC, the rate of deaths caused by fentanyl increased by 24% in 2021. The sharp increase in fentanyl deaths represents a quadrupling of such deaths over the previous five years.
Furthermore, there has also been a sharp increase in deaths caused by both cocaine and methamphetamine.
Overall, the CDC estimates that more than 100,000 Americans died due to drug overdoses in 2021. Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl were responsible for more than two-thirds of these deaths.
The influx of fentanyl also comes during major concerns about the drug trade and drug violence in Mexico. Mexican authorities recently announced the seizure of more than 39 tons of cocaine in a port in Baja California, not far from the U.S. border.