Border Crisis

Cartel Smugglers Lose $1.5M in Seized Fentanyl, Cocaine in El Paso in Single Week

EL PASO, Texas — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the El Paso area ports of entry managed to keep 11.2 pounds of fentanyl and 113 pounds of cocaine from hitting the United States illicit drug market in just one week’s worth of seizures. The seizures involved several cases during the week preceding the Cinco de Mayo holiday. In all, the street value of the narcotics is estimated at $1.5 million.

In a press release announcing the seizures at El Paso area ports of entry, Hector Mancha, CBP’s Director of Field Operations for El Paso, says, “The drugs seized by our CBP workforce will not cause harm in the communities we share,” adding, “We are hard at work every day utilizing multiple tools to identify and stop those who attempt to circumvent our inspection process.”

According to CBP, on April 30, 42.5 pounds of cocaine were discovered in a 2013 Hyundai Elantra driven by a 48-year-old male United States citizen at El Paso’s Bridge of Americas Port of Entry. CBP officers’ suspicions were heightened after spotting anomalies in the appearance of the Hyundai Elantra using a Low Energy Portal inspection system. After a canine alerted to the potential of narcotics being smuggled in the vehicle, an additional X-ray scan was conducted.

After physically searching the rocker panels on the vehicle, officers discovered 18 packages of a substance, which later tested positive for cocaine. One day later, on May 1, CBP officers at the nearby Ysleta Port of Entry discovered 11.2 pounds of fentanyl powder concealed within a 2012 Ibiza compact car. According to CBP, the vehicle was driven by a 26-year-old Mexican national.

During an enforcement operation just south of the inspection booths, the driver of the Ibiza was selected for a more detailed examination at the port’s secondary inspection area. During the inspection, officers discovered 15 fentanyl-filled packages in the console area of the vehicle. The 11.2 pounds of fentanyl has a street value of $230,000.00.

In two other events, CBP officers working in El Paso seized an additional 70.8 pounds of cocaine during the week, bringing the overall total to $1.5 million.

In most cases, border narcotic smuggling by Mexican cartels is aimed at moving the deadly merchandise north and away from the border region. The impact of fentanyl overdoses is a nationwide issue. In El Paso County, the latest annual medical examiner’s report (2022) shows nearly 70 fentanyl-related overdoses occurred in El Paso. The deaths occurred after residents of the border town consumed fentanyl alone or other illicit narcotics laced with fentanyl.

In a campaign launched by DEA known as “One Pill Can Kill”, the agency warned the public its testing concluded 1 in 7 counterfeit pills marketed by Mexican drug cartels was found to contain a deadly dose of fentanyl.

Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol.  Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.



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