DHS seizes 900 pounds of fentanyl in first week of border campaign

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stopped 900 pounds of fentanyl from entering the country in the first week of a new campaign on the southern border, marking a jump in weekly seizures.

The average weekly haul in February 2023 was about 575 pounds. That was a sharp increase from average seizures in 2022, which were about 283 pounds a week. In all of March 2022, 1,100 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the southern border.

DHS launched its Operation Blue Lotus on March 13, increasing inspections by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations officers, deploying canine units and upping usage of advanced technology. In its first week, the operation has conducted 18 seizures, 16 federal arrests and two state arrests, according to DHS.

The seizures stopped more 900 pounds of fentanyl, more than 700 pounds of methamphetamines and more than 100 pounds of cocaine from entering the United States, DHS said.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that DHS has seized more fentanyl in the past two years than the country had in the previous five years combined.

“Operation Blue Lotus is a DHS-led, coordinated surge effort to curtail the flow of illicit fentanyl smuggled into the United States from Mexico and bring to justice the dangerous criminal organizations profiting from the illegal production, distribution, and sale of this dangerous substance,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

DHS said in the press release that Customs and Border Protection’s Forward Operating Labs are set up close to the southern border so that officials could “quickly” identify unknown substances in “real-time.”

“CBP is on the frontline of stopping fentanyl and other illegal narcotics that are primarily trafficked through Ports of Entry,” Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement. “Our dedicated personnel are already seizing record amounts of fentanyl, and we continue to make the interdiction of cross border smuggling one of our top priorities.”

CPB has seized about 11,000 pounds of fentanyl since the start of the 2023 fiscal year in October, including about 2,300 pounds seized in February alone. In the 2022 fiscal year, about 14,700 pounds of fentanyl were seized by the agency. In fiscal year 2021, Customs and Border Protection seized about 11,200 pounds of the drug and in fiscal year 2020, seized about 4,800 pounds of fentanyl.

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