U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 1,066 percent increase in fentanyl seized in south Texas during fiscal year 2021. Border patrol officers at eight ports of entry from Brownsville to Del Rio seized 87,652 pounds of narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine and fentanyl with an estimated street value of $786 million, Axios reports. "Because of its potency and low cost, drug dealers have been mixing fentanyl with other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine, increasing the likelihood of a fatal interaction," says the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The data were reported as the substance abuse crisis has spiraled during the pandemic. An estimated 100,306 people in the U.S. died from a drug overdose in a 12-month period ending last April. That's the first time drug overdose fatalities reached six figures in a 12-month period and a 28 percent increase over the same period one year earlier. "Our significant gains in fentanyl and cocaine seizures underscore the deadly nature of the contraband we encounter, the need to utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect our officers and our continued resolve to carry out our vital border security mission," said the border agency's Randy Howe.