(NewsNation) — Fentanyl — a synthetic opioid as much as 100 times as powerful than morphine — is being smuggled across the border at a record pace, and Arizona’s attorney general says half of it is coming from an area south of Tucson.
About 67% of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. involved fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although millions of the pills entering the U.S. are regularly seized, some make it past authorities and into the hands of Americans.
Outgoing Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the drugs are making it through his state, often moved by cartels. The price of fentanyl has dramatically decreased, which is an indication that the flow of the drug is on the rise, despite frequent seizures.
More than 15.75 million pills have been seized at the Nogales, Arizona port of entry alone since Oct. 1.
Recent Border Patrol seizures in Arizona include 1.2 million discovered in the Nogales port of entry. Officials say the bust revealed 541,000 fentanyl pills and 4 pounds of fentanyl powder concealed in the doors and rear panel of a car.
Hours later, more than 689,000 fentanyl pills were found hidden throughout a vehicle.
Across the border, officials are reporting that agents found 208 pounds of fentanyl (the equivalent of about 943,000 pills) in the interior, meaning the drugs made it through the ports of entry or holes in the border.
In an effort to bring awareness to the crisis, the DEA has begun sharing what it calls the Faces of Fentanyl – photos of people who died from fentanyl use.
Brnovich, on his last day in office, said he hopes incoming Attorney General Kris Mayes will put an emphasis on securing the border.