Nogales CBP officers seize 9K fentanyl tablets hidden in bicycle

Paul Ingram

TucsonSentinel.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in the Nogales area on Friday seized 9,000 fentanyl tablets with an estimated value of $24,500 crammed from a bicycle frame, authorities said.

A 37-year-old man was arrested after CBP officials at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales sawed through the bike’s crossbar to find 2.25 pounds of drugs, CBP spokeswoman Teresa Small said.

Michael Humphries, Port Manager of Nogales, announcement the seizure via Twitter, and praised his officers for intercepting the hideout.

“Excellent catch and great job,” Humphries wrote. “Nogales! Thank you for continuing to protect our communities!”

In images shared on Twitter, a silver-framed Diamondback mountain bike is shown with the frame cut out using a reciprocating saw. Dozens of loose pills are packed in a hollow tube frame, after the drugs were discovered by the Office of Field Operations, the part of CBP responsible for policing US border crossings.

Since October 2021, CBP officials have seized 5,309 pounds of fentanyl along the US border, including more than 1,000 pounds in March. However, the agency is set to uncover a slightly lower amount of the drug compared to last year.

While fentanyl is often used for pain management in clinical settings, drug trafficking organizations have increasingly turned to producing illicit fentanyl in clandestine labs, using chemicals purchased in China. The pills are then smuggled into the United States via Mexico.

In many cases, fentanyl is mixed with other illegal drugs to increase potency and can be sold as powders and nasal sprays. Fentanyl is increasingly being squeezed into pills designed to look like legitimate prescription opioids, according to the DEA. “Because there is no official oversight or quality control, these counterfeit pills often contain lethal doses of Fentanyl, without any of the drugs promised,” the DEA said, adding that there is “a significant risk that illegal drugs have been intentionally contaminated with Fentanyl, “including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

This mixture increases the “likelihood of a fatal interaction,” the DEA said. Notably, DEA analysis found that the potency of counterfeit pills can range from 0.02 to 5.1 milligrams, more than double the lethal dose of a single pill. As noted by the CDC, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, have led to a 38.1% increase in overdose deaths in the United States.

In August 2020, the DEA announced a nationwide law enforcement effort, called One Pill Can Kill, to combat the availability and lethality of counterfeit fentanyl-containing pills.

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