Fentanyl worth more than $1 million was recently found concealed in several different food items, including coffee cans. Drug smugglers like using coffee products for smuggling operations as the strong smell of the coffee can mask the drugs from sniffer dogs.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl was developed for pain management treatment of cancer patients, applied in a patch on the skin.

Fentanyl (dea.gov)

The incident occurred at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry along the U.S.-Mexico border in California, in a news statement from Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On 3 July, at about 10:50 p.m. local time, the on-duty CBP agents at the port of entry came across two men who were trying to enter the U.S.

The two men, aged 50 and 43, were operating a 2005 GMC Yukon and presenting officials with their passports and a “California identification card,” said CBP. They were taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigation and eventually sent to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego, according to the press release.

Upon a quick inspection of the men’s car, CBP agents found multiple “packages wrapped in plastic concealed inside food products.” After discovering the packages, CBP officials made a thorough search and discovered “46 packages containing fentanyl hidden within flour bags, ground coffee cans, creamer cans and powdered milk cans.” 

The said packages seized by the CBP agents contained 42.46 pounds of fentanyl powder and 59.08 pounds of fentanyl pills. The illegal narcotics collectively have a street value of more than $1.2 million, authorities said.

Following the seizure, Anne Maricich, CBP’s deputy director of field operations in San Diego, stated, “We are seeing a rise in fentanyl smuggling attempts.”

Our officers are working vigilantly to prevent the entry of this dangerous drug. Our field office is also diligently working on mitigating the risks involved with seizing this lethal narcotic.

Anne Maricich, Deputy Director, CBP

“Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine,” the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said. “Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin.… Clandestinely-produced fentanyl is primarily manufactured in Mexico.”

Law enforcement agents in Colorado stopped a driver who was found to be carrying 114 pounds of pure fentanyl powder earlier in the month.

Moreover, following the recent discovery of roughly 1 million fake fentanyl pills in a home in California, the DEA stated it was “the largest seizure of fentanyl pills the DEA has made in California.”

CBP officials and law enforcement organisations across the U.S. have continued issuing warnings about the dangers associated with the drug and intercepting it over the past several months. As early as April, the DEA warned officials across the country of a rise in “fentanyl-related mass-overdose events.” 

Already this year, numerous mass-overdose events have resulted in dozens of overdoses and deaths. Drug traffickers are driving addiction, and increasing their profits, by mixing fentanyl with other illicit drugs. Tragically, many overdose victims have no idea they are ingesting deadly fentanyl, until it’s too late.

Anne Milgram, Administrator, DEA

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