Smugglers using livestock trailers to sneak fentanyl into US: CBP memo

An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 10, 2023.
An illegal migrant man crosses through the banks of the Rio Grande to be processed by the Border Patrol El Paso Sector, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on May 10, 2023. | HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a warning about smugglers using vehicles that transport livestock to sneak fentanyl into the country. 

A CBP memo obtained by NewsNation warns border officials to be watchful of a "trailer smuggling trend." The tactic to smuggle fentanyl through the U.S.-Mexico border involves hiding the drugs inside of the side rails and metal framings of livestock trailers. 

"The cartels are always a step ahead of us," Terrell County Sheriff Thaddeus Cleveland said in a statement. "Whether it's in between the ports of entry or actually at the ports of entry. It makes you wonder how long have they been getting away with it?" 

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Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that carries a high risk of addiction. Fentanyl that is made illegally is often mixed with other drugs, including heroin and cocaine. According to a May report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioids like fentanyl contribute to nearly 70% of overdose deaths. 

Officials believe they are only able to catch between 5% and 10% of the drugs smuggled into the United States, according to NewsNation. Citing numbers from the port director in Nogales, Arizona, where the alert originated, the outlet notes that 45.8 million fentanyl pills were seized in 2023. The director said that nearly 24 million have been seized during fiscal year 2024. 

As KJZZ reported in May, CBP launched a new strategy alongside the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Homeland Security Investigations to stop the trafficking of fentanyl, starting with the southern border from Arizona, in Nogales, Sonora. John Washington, a journalist who covered the story for Arizona Luminaria, told the station that estimates suggest about 40% of drugs smuggled into the U.S. go through Nogales Plaza. 

"The Department of Homeland Security's own estimate is that over 90% of all fentanyl is smuggled through the ports of entry," the reporter said. "That means it's being carried through mostly in cars, vehicles, hidden compartments, things like that. Also, sometimes individuals strap pills to their body or ingest the pills and then later retrieve them." 

According to DEA data, the agency has seized over 27.9 million fentanyl pills thus far this year. The DEA seized more than 80 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2023. 

In addition to fentanyl, local residents and authorities have encountered migrants who committed crimes before they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Last Monday, the Sonora Attorney General's Office announced that authorities had apprehended 45-year-old "Alfredo' N,'" a suspect in the murder of 43-year-old "Eva Amanda' N.'" The Sonora attorney general's office stated that authorities located the suspect on June 30 in Arizona based on information obtained from CBP. The CBP handed the suspect over to the Ministerial Criminal Investigation Agency at the Dennis DeConcini International checkpoint near Nogales.

Alfredo was subsequently transferred to Hermosillo, Mexico, and admitted to the Social Reintegration Center, where he is awaiting hearings, according to the attorney general's office.

"The Attorney General's Office of the State of Sonora (FGJES) makes it clear that all victims of gender-based violence will have access to justice to ensure the protection of their rights and the application, in court, of the corresponding exemplary sanctions. to those responsible," the office stated.

Alfredo was driving a tractor-trailer in December 2023 from the port city of Guaymas to Hermosillo when he allegedly attacked Amanda, a woman the state prosecutor's described as the suspect's significant other, WFXR reported.

Amanda was struck on the head with a blunt object that cracked her skull and resulted in traumatic injuries that led to her death. The suspect is believed to have abandoned Amanda's body on the side of Mexico Federal Highway 15 before fleeing into the U.S. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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