U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered nearly $3.1 million worth of drugs — including a massive 23-pound load of the ultra-deadly drug fentanyl — hidden inside the gas tank of a commercial bus Monday afternoon at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.
The enormous drug seizure happened just five hours before officers at the same border crossing were involved in a shootout with a man who allegedly opened fired on them while trying to plow through the port of entry with two Chinese men hidden in his pickup.
The incidents were not related.
Around 2 p.m. Monday, Customs and Border Protection officers selected a commercial bus for a more in-depth investigation, agency spokeswoman Officer Angelica Decima said in a statement. In the secondary inspection area, a drug-sniffing dog zeroed in on the gas tank area of the bus, which was being driven by a 45-year-old Mexican man.
During a search of the bus, officers found 229 pounds of cocaine, 6 pounds of heroin and 23 pounds of fentanyl, according to Decima.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has invaded the nation’s drug supply because it is cheap to make, easy to procure and extremely potent — up to 50 times stronger than heroin. It is also extremely deadly, especially if a user is not accustomed to its strength or takes a concentrated dose. A fatal dose of pure fentanyl can be the equivalent of a pinch of salt.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, 2 milligrams of fentanyl is a fatal dose in most people, meaning 23 pounds of fentanyl would contain upwards of 5.2 million fatal doses — roughly the population of Chicago’s Cook County, the second most populated county in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Customs and Border Protection officers in Calexico seized 106 pounds of methamphetamine in separate incidents — one in the morning at the Calexico East Port of Entry, and one in the evening at the Calexico West Port of Entry, Decima said. The combined estimated worth of those seizures was nearly $170,000.
All three drivers were turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation agents for potential prosecution, Decima said. Customs and Border Protection officers seized all vehicles and narcotics.
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