In the past three months alone, border officials have seized enough fentanyl to kill every American five times over, a top border official said on Tuesday during a Congressional hearing on border security.
Around 9,400 pounds of the synthetic drug have been seized at the border, according to Department of Homeland Security figures cited by Representative Tim Burchett during the hearing. At least 7,200 pounds of the seized drugs were intercepted at the U.S.-Mexico border alone.
“That’s enough fentanyl to kill every American five times over,” Burchett added, comparing the figures of seized drugs to the 332 million Americans recorded in the 2021 census.
Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin added that 700 pounds of fentanyl were found in his area alone last year—enough to kill half of the U.S. population.
Most of the fentanyl is being produced by cartels and criminal groups in Mexico and then being smuggled into the U.S. through the southern border, often in vehicles driven by American citizens, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Smaller amounts of the drug are coming by air from China.
Last year, the DEA seized more than 50 million fentanyl pills and more than 10,000 pounds of the drug in a powdered form—enough fentanyl to kill every American. In 2022, the deaths caused by the synthetic opiate ranged from around 70,000 a month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The migration crisis at the border was one of the main issues discussed at the second hearing of the Oversight Committee in the 118th Congress on Tuesday.