MURRIETA, Calif. — Just before the start of the Memorial Day holiday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers servicing Murrieta’s Newton Azrak Station intercepted two shipments of fentanyl on Interstate 15 in the South -west of Riverside County.
Although arrests were made and approximately 130 pounds of illicit narcotics seized in seizures that took place over a 48-hour period, the incidents were notable due to the thousands of potential poisonings that could have occurred. produce if the drug had made it to the streets: According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, just 2 milligrams of fentanyl is considered a life-threatening dose. One pound of fentanyl contains 453,592 milligrams.
The first bust occurred around 10:50 a.m. on May 24 after Border Patrol agents stopped a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe heading north on Interstate 15 toward Temecula, just north of the Temecula checkpoint. border patrol.
Officers searched the vehicle and found 67 packages stowed in the gas tank, according to U.S. Border Patrol/San Diego Sector Special Operations Supervisor Tekae Michael. Sixty-five of the packets contained pills that tested positive for fentanyl and two other packets contained fentanyl powder, Michael reported.
The total haul weighed just under 90 pounds and had a market value of over $900,000, according to Michael.
The narcotics along with the Tahoe’s driver and passengers – all US citizens – were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations and the Inland Crackdown Allied multi-agency task force. Arrest records were not available. The Tahoe was seized by Border Patrol.
In a released statement, Eddy Wang, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Los Angeles, said his agency — in partnership with the US Border Patrol and the INCA — is dedicated to keeping “this poison from hitting our streets.”
About 48 hours after the bust, another occurred in roughly the same area of Southwest Riverside County. At approximately 9:45 a.m. on May 26, Border Patrol agents stopped a white Jeep Liberty heading north on the highway.
During that search of the vehicle, officers found 42 packages stowed in four tires with aftermarket compartments — 34 packages contained fentanyl powder and eight contained heroin, according to Michael.
The fentanyl weighed 39.5 pounds and had an estimated market value of $474,000. The heroine weighed 26.9 pounds and had an estimated street value of $345,600, Michael reported.
The driver, a Mexican national, was convicted by the state. The narcotics and vehicle were seized by Border Patrol, according to Michael.
It is unclear what prompted officers to stop the vehicles and search them. Michael did not say if the two incidents were related.
So far this exercise, US Border Patrol agents in the San Diego area, including those from the local Murrieta station, have seized more than 560 pounds of fentanyl and 128 pounds of heroin, according to Michael. The US Customs and Border Protection fiscal year begins October 1.
Fentanyl has become a lucrative substance for drug traffickers, according to “Facts about Fentanyl” published by the DEA:
“Illicit fentanyl, primarily manufactured in foreign clandestine labs and smuggled into the United States via Mexico, is distributed throughout the country and sold into the illegal drug market. Fentanyl is mixed with other illicit drugs to increase drug potency, sold as powders and nasal sprays, and increasingly squeezed into pills designed to look like legitimate prescription opioids.
“Because there is no official oversight or quality control, these counterfeit pills often contain lethal doses of fentanyl, without any of the drugs promised.
“There is a significant risk that illegal drugs have been intentionally contaminated with fentanyl. Due to its potency and low cost, drug traffickers have mixed fentanyl with other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, thereby increasing the likelihood of a lethal interaction.”
Border Patrol Chief Agent Aaron Heitke said, “By seizing these narcotics, our Border Patrol agents are not only preventing dangerous drugs from entering our communities, but also depriving criminal organizations of the profits of their sale”.