August a big month for drugs seized on Arizona’s southern border so far
PHOENIX — The Port of Entry in Nogales has seen a big spike in drugs crossing the border in August – including meth, heroin and, in particular, fentanyl pills.
They’ve been concealed in hidden car compartments, stashed in spare tires and even found in the frame of a medical walker.
Nogales Port Director Michael Humphries said Customs and Border Protection officers have seen especially big busts in recent days.
“There was one seizure that had approximately 391,000 fentanyl pills,” Humphries recounted. “Another had approximately 420,000.”
These busts, plus other smaller ones, totaled up to more than 1.1 million fentanyl pills seized at the Nogales Port of Entry in a seven-day period.
Humphries stressed these numbers aren’t typical, even though rates of fentanyl smuggling are up.
“We do get good amounts … but not back to back,” he said. “But this fiscal year, we are ahead of what we seized last year as far as fentanyl goes.”
Drugs aren’t all that are seized at the border. Humphries explained weapons going into Mexico from the U.S. has become a big concern.
“This year we’ve seized a few machine guns, a lot of assault rifles and a lot of assault rifle ammunition going into Mexico,” he said. “When you’re talking machine guns on tripods … they’re not going deer hunting.”
There have also been large quantities of undeclared cash confiscated.
“In the month of July we seized over half a million dollars in cash, most likely destined for trans-national criminal organizations,” Humphries said.
Several days ago, the Biden administration announced the end of the “Remain in Mexico” policy – which allowed the U.S. government to send migrants with asylum claims back to Mexico while awaiting their hearings.
Humphries doesn’t expect this change to have much of an effect on Ports of Entry.
“99% of the people who come through here are coming for legitimate reasons,” he stressed. “They’re going to Tucson and Phoenix … staying in hotels, shopping and going to restaurants.”
However, Humphries acknowledged there is a national spotlight on his part of the border, with opioid overdoses up and large hauls of drugs being seized.
“A lot’s been going on down here, especially lately,” he said.