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Fentanyl seizures increase again at southern border, now 78% higher than last fiscal year

The amount of fentanyl seized at the border by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) increased again in June as part of a continued surge in seizures of the deadly drug, which are now 78% higher in fiscal year (FY) 2021 so far compared to all of last fiscal year.

CBP seized 1,060 pounds of the deadly drug in June. That is the highest amount seized since December and a 12% increase overall from May, when 948 pounds were seized. Comparatively, it is higher than 713 pounds seized in June 2020, and the 293 pounds seized in June 2019.

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It means that so far in FY2021, with three months remaining, there have been 8,507 pounds of the drug seized, compared to 4,776 in all of FY 2020.

Fentanyl, an opioid for pain treatment, is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. According to the CDC, more than 36,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl in 2019.

However, drug seizures overall actually decreased by 30% from May. So far this fiscal year there have been 504,935 pounds of drugs seized compared to 828,658 in all of FY 2020.

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But fentanyl  is watched closely by officials and lawmakers due to how deadly it can be with just a tiny amount. 

Republicans have cited the figure to demonstrate the surge in illegal activity as well as migration that is surging at the border amid the ongoing border crisis – which Republicans have blamed on the Biden administration’s policies, but Democrats have attributed to root causes like poverty and violence in Central America.

“They have enough fentanyl just seized in June to kill hundreds of millions of people, almost 70% of our country based on just June, the fentanyl that’s coming in,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at the weekend.

CBP announced a series of numbers late last week which indicates the surge at the border in both migrants and illegal activity is not slowing down.

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CBP said that 188,829 migrants were encountered at the southern border, an increase from the 180,034 encountered in May. It is also a sharp rise since when President Biden took office – there were 78,442 encounters in January.

June’s numbers also take the number of encounters in FY 2021 to more than 1 million, with three months left to go. That’s in comparison to just over 458,000 in all of FY 2020 and 977,509 in all of FY 2019.