CBP K-9 sniffs out largest fentanyl seizure in agency’s history

NOGALES — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized almost 650 pounds of narcotics, fentanyl and methamphetamine, with a street value of about $4.6 million, when a 26-year-old Mexican national tried to enter the United States through the Port of Nogales with a truckload of vegetables.

This was the largest seizure of fentanyl in CBP history.

The methamphetamine seizure represents the third largest at an Arizona port of entry.

The truck driver was arrested, remanded to Homeland Security Investigations and charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances. He is being held in federal custody.

Officers discovered more than 400 narcotics packages within a hidden floor compartment of a trailer loaded with cucumbers.

After a CBP narcotics K-9 alerted on the compartment, officers seized nearly 254 pounds of fentanyl with a value of about $3.5 million and almost 395 pounds of methamphetamine valued at $1.1 million.

Nogales Area Port Director Michael Humphries lauded his staff for their outstanding interdiction.

“Opioids pose a real danger to every community in America and are having fatal consequences across our nation,” Humphries said. “This past weekend our CBP officers were able to stop an enormous amount of these deadly narcotics from hitting our streets.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug, with a potency roughly 100 times greater than morphine. It was originally developed to control pain for cancer patients.

Large quantities of fentanyl have been manufactured in China, but it is now mostly made in Mexico, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown, of Homeland Security Investigations said this case is an example of a successful collaboration between HSI and CBP.

“These efforts exhibit the combined resources of law enforcement agencies’ resolve to combating these deadly drugs from entering our communities,” Brown said.

The Mariposa Land Port in Nogales is the fourth busiest port of entry in the United States. Sixty to 70 percent of all Mexican winter-harvested fruits and vegetables, and nearly one-third of all Mexican produce year-round passes through this customs facility, according to the Produce Blue Book.

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