America’s painkiller epidemic is definitely stretching into criminal territory. This past week, U.S. officials recorded the largest seizure of illegal fentanyl in our country’s history, at a total of 295 pounds. Fentanyl, of course, is the synthetic drug that many dealers are beginning to peddle to help further habits of those addicted to opioids. Now apparently, cartels are involved and the illegal sale of this narcotic has become a very big business.
The bust occurred in the Nogales region of southern Arizona. Interestingly this was a legal border crossing, which stirred its own political debate as to whether building President Donald Trump’s wall would put a serious dent in the drug trafficking trade. The Washington Post chimed in on that particular argument, emphasizing that smuggling narcotics like fentanyl would still continue even if the president’s order goes through.
“Although smugglers have at times used sophisticated tunnel networks to carry drugs into the United States, the majority entered through legal ports of entry, and a wall would not necessarily stop the usage of tunnels,” Post writer Siobhan O’Grady emphasized. “Data from Customs and Border Patrol also states most hard drugs are found during searches at legal border crossings.”
It is also worth noting that large quantities of drugs like fentanyl are much harder to detect than something like marijuana. For starters, tiny amounts can be extremely potent so it unusual to see a size this big come through. It also is less smelly and easy to disguise.
The fact that fentanyl is so potent makes that 295 pound seizure all the more alarming. A quantity that of that magnitude could be extremely deadly when distributed on the streets. In fact, officials speaking after the bust proclaimed that it could have led to up to 100 million lethal doses.
This particular batch was detected by a canine unit. A truck at the Arizona crossing caused a reaction from some of the dogs. From there, authorities discovered a false floor compartment which contained 400 packages of fentanyl. In total, the amount was estimated to run around $3.5 million on the streets.
Obviously, this story is upsetting on multiple levels. The first is that the President’s wall proposal obviously won’t make any dent in border drug trafficking. And the second is that massive quantities of a drug like fentanyl are now making their way into the illicit distribution stream, at the potential risk of millions of American lives.