CBP fentanyl seizures at U.S.-Mexico border set record in FY2022

Republican lawmakers have suggested declaring the drug a weapon of mass destruction if they take back control of Congress.

Published: October 24, 2022 5:17pm

Updated: October 24, 2022 11:03pm

U.S. Customs and Border Protection fentanyl seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border have set a record in FY2022, according the latest statistics released by the agency.

While CBP's latest monthly operational update for the border reported that fentanyl seizures dropped 19% from August to September, the total amount of fentanyl intercepted by federal authorities in FY2022 surpassed the amounts in FY2019, FY2020 and FY2021.

According to CBP's statistics on the total pounds of drug seizures by the thousands, 14.1k of fentanyl was seized in FY2022 at the southwest border alone. Examining overall CBP statistics, including coastal/interior, the northern border and southwest border, that number jumps to 14.7k, compared to 11.2k in FY2021, 4.8k in FY2020 and 2.8k in FY2019. 

Federal law enforcement has recently made large seizures of fentanyl in the U.S. as part of enforcement operations.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Oct. 20 that a "Mexican national man was sentenced Oct. 14 in federal court to 108 months in prison in connection with the record-breaking seizure of 17,584 pounds of methamphetamine and 388.93 pounds of fentanyl from a commercial trailer attempting to enter the United States at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry." ICE reported that "Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias, of Mexico, admitted to driving the drug-laden tractor trailer into the United States through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry."

According to the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Detroit Division on Oct. 8 announced "significant fentanyl seizures across the Midwest," which resulted in 4 millions doses intercepted. 

Republican lawmakers have argued that the rising amount of fentanyl coming across the border is evidence that the U.S.-Mexico border is not secure.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has suggested declaring fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction if the GOP takes back control of Congress.

"It's the number one killer of our children today," McCaul said during an interview with Just the News. "Enough has come across [the border] to kill the entire population seven times over. This is an epidemic of huge proportions. It's just out of control. And what inflames me is that it's coming from China, the precursors, into Mexico, coming across into our border, not to mention the human trafficking elements and the drug cartels having operational control of our border."

McCaul said it was harder for smugglers to move illegal drugs across the southwest border under the Trump administration.

"I mean, between the wall, the technology, the Remain in Mexico, the cartels knew they couldn't, you know, it was harder to get across," McCaul said. "But once it was opened up under this administration, not only are they getting all of the women and children and young males across and making money off of them, they're making an extraordinary amount of money off the drugs, particularly the fentanyl, and China probably thinks it's a great foreign policy. They make money off it, and they kill Americans." 

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said declaring fentanyl a WMD would free up additional federal resources to handle its spread from the border across the U.S.

"It is a very serious problem," Wenstrup said. "You would think if something is killing that many Americans, it would be one of the first things that comes out of the mouth of the president of the United States. We're not seeing that. So we're going to elevate the level of recognition."

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