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Fentanyl, Weapons, Other Drug Seizures at Northern Border Setting Records

Fentanyl seizure in Detroit was largest at northern border in five years.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

By: Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

Federal agents working at ports of entry in northern U.S. cities and in small towns along the U.S.-Canadian border are continuing to thwart illegal activity.

Federal agents working in Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati and in a small border town of North Dakota continue to interdict fentanyl, weapons, fake e-cigarettes and illegal prescription drugs stemming from the border crisis.

In Detroit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations agents seized nearly six pounds of fentanyl in one enforcement action at the Fort Street Cargo Facility.

It was the largest seizure of its kind for the Port of Detroit, and one of the largest inbound fentanyl seizures at the northern border in the last five years, CBP says.

As CBP agents inspected international mail, a K-9 sniffed out the synthetic opioid, uncovering a package containing multiple plastic bags of pills. The pills were tested and identified as fentanyl. With two milligrams considered a lethal dose, they seized enough fentanyl to kill more than 1.3 million people.

Farther north, in the CBP Grand Forks Sector in Pembina County, North Dakota, Border Patrol agents working with a K9 discovered three backpacks full of abandoned firearms. They found them after responding to a report of suspicious activity west of the Neche, North Dakota Port of Entry.

Once they arrived, “they observed two individuals absconding from the area into Canada,” Border Patrol said. The agents continued searching the area and with the help of their canine, Odin, found backpacks left behind containing a significant amount of firearms.

They seized 65 handguns, 65 pistol magazines, two rifles, one suppressor, and two rifle magazines.

“Bulk firearms seizures are an uncommon occurrence for the Grand Forks Sector, but this serves as a humbling reminder of how critically important our mission is,” Grand Forks Sector Chief Patrol Agent Scott Garrett said.

“There is currently no threat to the community at this time,” Border Patrol said – but “encourages everyone to stay vigilant and report suspicious activity.”

Reports can be anonymous. Residents are encouraged to call 1-800-982-4077, “24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” They can also send tips via email to gfndispatch@cbp.dhs.gov.

Community involvement has been critical to Border Patrol agents working in the remote areas along the northern border, The Center Square has reported. Lack of operational control at the northern border presents a national security threat, experts have told The Center Square. They have issued warnings after the greatest number of illegal border crossers, including the greatest number of known or suspected terrorists, have been apprehended at the northern border in U.S. history under the Biden administration

In Chicago, CBP agents recently seized 53,700 illegal electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) shipped from China destined to a wholesaler in Mississippi with an estimated retail price of over $1 million.

They discovered a shipment of 179 boxes was mislabeled as electronic atomizers but full of vaping pens in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which regulates consumer goods. CBP agents, working with Food & Drug Administration officials, determined the products were adulterated and being imported by an unauthorized agent.

Mislabeling the contents as electronic atomizers is “a common practice used to smuggle unapproved goods into the US,” CBP says, adding that they were likely being sent to a wholesaler for wider distribution nationwide.

Last month, the FDA announced a new federal multi-agency task force to combat the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes.

Another product CBP and the FDA have found is being illegally imported is an FDA approved prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes and weight loss, Ozempic. Importing Ozempic into the U.S. is prohibited without FDA authorization and oversight.

At the Port of Cincinnati, CBP agents have so far seized a record 11 shipments of unauthorized Ozempic coming from Columbia this calendar year. CBP agents first detected shipments in February of pre-filled injection pens containing Ozempic coming from Columbia. The shipments have primary destinations of New York, Massachusetts and Texas, with a combined estimated value of $887,000.

“Unfortunately, very few online pharmacies are compliant with the U.S. pharmacy standards,” CBP said. “This poses health risks to consumers who purchase what they believe is a genuine product at a much lower cost.”

“Prescription drugs that are smuggled from outside the U.S., particularly injectable products that should be sterile, can present a serious health risk to those who use them. The drugs have not undergone the proper import processes and may contain unknown or dangerous ingredients,” Dan Solis, FDA Assistant Commissioner for import operations, said.

Director Field Operations-Chicago LaFonda Sutton-Burke said there have been “soaring sales in E-commerce of illegal medications from overseas entities that fail to abide by the rules set in place. … Stopping illegal shipments of Ozempic saves consumers a substantial amount of money and potentially dangerous health risks.”

Related Story: Northern Border Continues to Outpace Southwest Border on Terrorist-Connected Apprehensions

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