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Record seizure of fentanyl, likely headed to the U.S., reported by Mexican border authorities

Record seizure of fentanyl, likely headed to the U.S., reported by Mexican border authorities
Fentanyl pills (Associated Press)

Mexican authorities seized their largest haul ever of fentanyl — some 140 pounds of powder and nearly 30,000 pills — that officials say was headed to Tijuana and most likely across the border to the United States.

"All I can say is that this not a surprise, Tijuana is the main corridor for Mexican drug traffickers to smuggle fentanyl into the United States," said Mark Conover, deputy U.S. attorney in San Diego and head of an inter-agency fentanyl working group. "All the indicators are that this load of fentanyl was destined for the city streets of the United States."

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Mexican drug cartels have in recent years added fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, to their portfolio of illicit drugs, fueling the U.S. opioid crisis, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The drug is manufactured illicitly in Mexico with precursors obtained from China and then smuggled into the United States, said Amy Roderick, the DEA's spokeswoman in San Diego.

The seizure, announced this week by the Mexicali-based Second Military Region, is the largest recorded by the country's National Defense Secretariat. It comes amid U.S. government concern that international crime cartels are increasingly turning to the trafficking of fentanyl, a drug so powerful that even a tiny amount can be fatal.

The drugs were found Aug. 19 south of Yuma, Ariz., at a checkpoint in the municipality of San Luis Rio Colorado in Mexico's Sonora state.

The illicit cargo was hidden inside a tractor-trailer truck ostensibly transporting grocery supplies from Mexico City to Tijuana. Soldiers seized 29,955 pills and 140 pounds of powder, both showing characteristics of fentanyl, according to the statement.

The driver and another man were taken into custody. They were not identified.

Dibble writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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