EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Seizures of fentanyl at the Texas-Mexico border and in the interior of the state continue to rise, law enforcement officials say.
The most disturbing part of the trend is Mexican drug cartels processing the often-deadly substance into pills made to look like any other prescription medicine, they say.
“A year ago, fentanyl was barely on our radar,” said Tarrant County Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn. “The intelligence that I have as of yesterday is that it has flooded our area.”
Waybourn was in South Texas on Wednesday as Gov. Greg Abbott and former President Trump toured unfinished border wall and railed against the threat posed to the state and the country by illegal immigration. Some of the claims, particularly from Trump, were exaggerated or false. But the fact is that seizures of the synthetic drug linked to thousands of fatal overdoses in the United States have been rapidly increasing at both the state and federal level.
The Texas Department of Public Safety reports an eight-fold increase in fentanyl seizures when comparing January to April 2020 with the same time frame in 2021.
The U.S. Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector also reports a 355 percent surge in fentanyl seizures this year when compared to last and a 4,000 percent-plus increase when measured against 2018.
The Mexican drug cartels often coerce migrants into bringing the drugs into the United States. “The cartels find ways to intimidate migrants and find ways to have them illegally transport the narcotics,” El Paso Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez told NBC news this week.
Waybourn, whose Fort Worth office is 500 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, says what is going on in his county shows the harmful reach of drug cartels into middle America.
“Even the low-level dealers have large quantities of fentanyl and not only do they use it in a pill press (machine), which makes it look like a safe drug to the young people, but they’re also lacing it with heroin and meth and other drugs,” the sheriff said, adding the price of a gram of fentanyl has dropped from $50 to $15-$20 in his county since January.
Waybourn said the fentanyl is coming from Mexico and called the drug cartels the No. 1 enemy of American law enforcement. He also urged parents to help contain the opioid overdose epidemic that claims 70,000 American lives every year.
“We need to draw a line in the sand to protect our children and we also need our parents … to invade the space of their children and know what they’re doing on social media and who they are connecting to,” the sheriff said. “We need everyone’s help or they (the parents) are going to be walking into that bedroom and finding that their 15- or 16-year-old is gone.”
DPS Director Steve McCraw said six of the eight Mexican drug cartels and 16 of their associate street gangs are active on the Texas-Mexico border. “They apply all the elements of military force including command and control, logistics, intelligence and information operations, and the application of deadly force to support criminals operations,” McCraw said. “They also recruit our kids and kids in Mexico to support their operation on both sides of the border. They’ve formed partnerships with the most vicious gangs in Texas and across the country. […] If it’s (cocaine), meth, fentanyl and heroin, the Mexican cartels certainly own it.”