By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor
With an unknown volume of fentanyl and other drugs pouring through the southern border between ports of entry in Arizona, federal agents recently seized enough fentanyl to kill more than 450 million people at several ports of entry and checkpoints.
Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations-Tucson Field Office agents working through “Operation Blue Lotus,” and Border Patrol Tucson and Yuma Sector agents working through “Operation Four Horsemen” seized substantial amounts of methamphetamine and over a ton of fentanyl. The operations occurred from March 6 to May 8 at four ports of entry and at two checkpoints.
With two milligrams considered a lethal dose, one ton of fentanyl, or 2,000 pounds, is enough to kill 453,592,400 people.
The operations’ success was “attributed to the federal, state and local partners that spent countless hours not just by responding to port calls but assisting HSI with seizures throughout Arizona,” Department of Homeland Security Investigations Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown said when announcing the bust. “Drugs, but especially fentanyl, are decimating communities. But together and with education, we all can make a significant impact in curbing the senseless deaths associated with the sale of these deadly drugs,” he said.
As a result of their efforts, county attorneys are prosecuting alleged offenders and nine cases were referred for federal prosecution. Among the federal cases, those charged allegedly attempted to smuggle drugs into the U.S. at ports of entry or made it through and were stopped at checkpoints. Or they picked up drugs from others who made it across the border undetected and were caught at checkpoints. The drivers were all heading north, authorities said. Single vehicles stopped held enough fentanyl to kill tens of millions of people.
At the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, a driver and passenger were apprehended for attempting to smuggle 156 packages of pills that field-tested positive for fentanyl hidden in their vehicle. Weighing over 200 pounds, the pills were enough to kill over 45.3 million people.
Also at the DeConcini POE, another driver, accompanied by a minor child, was apprehended after 65 packages that field-tested positive for fentanyl were found hidden in the vehicle. Weighing nearly 103 pounds, the drugs were enough to kill 23.3 million people.
Also in Nogales, another driver was apprehended for attempting to smuggle 236 packages that field-tested positive for fentanyl. Weighing over 415 pounds, they were enough to kill over 94.1 million people.
At the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, a driver was apprehended after agents found 73 packages that field tested positive for fentanyl hidden in the quarter panels and seats of the vehicle. Weighing over 119 pounds, they were enough to kill 27 million people.
Also at the Mariposa Port, another driver and passenger were apprehended after agents found 588 packages hidden in their vehicle that field-tested positive for fentanyl. Weighing nearly 163 pounds, they were enough to kill 73.8 million people.
At the Lukeville Port of Entry, a driver with two minor children in her vehicle was apprehended after officers found 32 packages that field-tested positive for fentanyl hidden inside the vehicle. Weighing over 73 pounds, they were enough to kill 16.5 million people.
At the San Luis Port of Entry, another individual, also with minors in the vehicle, was apprehended after 201 packages of suspected drugs were found hidden in the vehicle doors. They included 131 packages that field-tested positive for fentanyl. Weighing nearly 85 pounds, they were enough to kill 38.5 million people.
At a checkpoint near Amado, another driver and her passenger were apprehended. Agents found a trap door in the vehicle, which led to a hidden compartment where 114 bundles that field-tested positive for fentanyl were hidden. Weighing over 30 pounds, they were enough to kill nearly 7 million people.
At a checkpoint near Wellton, a driver was apprehended after agents found 16 vacuum-sealed packages containing small blue pills hidden inside the vehicle’s tailgate and in a spare tire that field-tested positive for fentanyl. Weighing over 137 pounds, they were enough to kill over 31.2 million people.
Federal agents working with the Arizona Department of Public Safety also interdicted crates of .50-caliber ammunition bound for Mexico. As law enforcement agents have explained to The Center Square, people and drugs are smuggled north into the U.S.; weapons, cash and other contraband are smuggled south.
Chief Patrol Agent of the Yuma Sector Patricia McGurk-Daniel said, “The success of the Four Horsemen operation was due to the collaborative efforts and teamwork of multiple agencies.” She said she was “especially proud of the Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents who worked tirelessly during this operation to take deadly drugs off our streets and out of the communities we proudly serve.”