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Drug cartels, traffickers are exploiting coronavirus pandemic, says CBP

CBP Florida (CBP Florida/Twitter)
May 23, 2020

As the world struggles to handle the plethora of problems brought on by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, malicious actors have begun to exploit the crisis for their own profit.

The latest to exploit the pandemic are drug cartels and trafficking networks, which have been ramping up their efforts to seize upon the distraction that comes with a global health crisis. The head of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that the administration has seized an enormous amount of drugs since the coronavirus outbreak began, Fox News first reported on Sunday.

“As for the cartels and drug trafficking networks, we know that there is no ‘day off’ for them,” Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said. “They continue to exploit the current health pandemic by attempting to move counterfeit products into our country, yet we continue to seize large amounts of dangerous and deadly drugs along our nation’s borders.”

Seizures of all four major drugs, including cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine, were up in April. There was a 27 percent increase in methamphetamine seizures and a four percent increase in fentanyl.

It isn’t just the coronavirus pandemic that has caused an increase in activity from drug cartels and traffickers. International bodies and open-borders activists have called on the United States and other countries to ease restrictions for entering countries.

Morgan stressed that border security now is “more important than ever.”

“Effective border security is an intertwined and complex set of threats. We must understand who and what is coming across our borders, and we must have the ability and tools to prevent those people and goods from being introduced into the U.S. that could do us harm,” Morgan said. “Whether it’s illegal narcotics that killed 68,000 people last year or the threat of an infectious disease coming across our borders, it’s all equally important to our national security.”

Morgan gave a couple of examples of the work the CBP did recently, highlighting the extent to which activity has increased. CBP agents in Laredo, Texas, seized 578 pounds of meth on April 25. The narcotics were found in construction materials shipment in a tractor-trailer. A Mexican citizen was driving the tractor. Additionally in April, 66 pounds of meth and two pounds of fentanyl were found in a car also driven by a Mexican national in Ysidro, California.

Morgan said he “could not be prouder” of the CBP workforce as they have exposed themselves to even greater risk during the pandemic. The CBP has made efforts to make operations safer for everyone, but four CBP personnel have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“How can you thank someone enough, someone who risked their life to protect others? They did something greater than themselves,” he said. “There just aren’t enough words. They are the true heroes.”