US border agents seize millions in fentanyl
US federal agents have taken hold of more than $4 million worth of fentanyl after apprehending traffickers in an Arizona border town, one of the largest busts of its kind this year.
In a statement on Friday, the US Border Patrol said it had arrested two smugglers, both American citizens, and recovered around 187 pounds (85 kg) of the narcotic after a traffic stop near Gila Bend, Arizona earlier this week. The town is located 75 miles (120 km) north of the US-Mexico border.
Agents said they spotted several suspicious duffel bags in the vehicle during the stop, and that the car’s female driver was “noticeably nervous as she was questioned.”
“After receiving her consent to search the vehicle, agents found three bags containing packages wrapped in black tape and cellophane as well as coated in axle grease, a technique often used to mask the scent of drugs,” the border agency said. “Further investigation revealed 340 packages of fentanyl pills weighing a grand total of 187 pounds and worth an estimated $4.3 million.”
John Modlin, the chief agent for the patrol’s Tucson Sector, later shared an image of the drugs on social media, showing a sizable mound of tightly wrapped packages.
Observant Ajo Station agents discovered $4.3 million in fentanyl pills during a vehicle stop near Gila Bend, AZ. Two U.S. citizen smugglers were turned over to @mcsoaz. #GoodWorkFor more information: https://t.co/7MFCK0XTvjpic.twitter.com/reGCBgaowP— John R. Modlin (@USBPChiefTCA) August 26, 2022
The case has since been turned over to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, and both the driver and her passenger will be prosecuted for drug crimes, though officials did not state the exact charges.
A potent synthetic opioid often produced in illicit labs, fentanyl has played a major role in the US’ drug epidemic, causing more than 71,000 overdose deaths in 2021 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While this week’s bust in Arizona involved a massive quantity of narcotics, it is dwarfed by an even larger fentanyl seizure last month in Inglewood, California, in which the Drug Enforcement Administration grabbed around 1 million pills with an estimated street value of $20 million.