(NewsNation) — The amount of fentanyl seized at the southern border hit a record high for the second consecutive month in August, according to the latest numbers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Last month, CBP officers along the southern border seized more than 2,200 pounds of fentanyl. That’s about 100 pounds more than the month prior and the highest number for a single month since CBP began tracking the data.
Since October 2021, authorities have seized more than 12,300 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border, which accounts for more than 95% of the fentanyl seized by CBP nationwide. That’s more than enough fentanyl to kill every person in the country.
As little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl is considered a potentially lethal dose, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA estimates one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.
With one month remaining in the fiscal year, CBP officials have already seized 1,700 more pounds of fentanyl than they recovered all of last year.
The record-setting total quantifies a growing crisis that has exploded in recent years. As recently as 2019, authorities seized just 2,600 pounds of fentanyl along the southern border, about one-fifth of what’s been seized this year.
“A decade ago, we didn’t even know about fentanyl, and now it’s a national crisis,” Randy Grossman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, said in a statement last month. “The amount of fentanyl we are seizing at the border is staggering.”
The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that Mexican cartels are increasingly manufacturing fentanyl that is being imported from China and then pressed into pills or powder, or mixed into other drugs at industrial-scale labs.
As the amount of fentanyl crossing the border continues to rise, so do the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths.
In San Diego, overdose deaths linked to fentanyl have increased 2,375%, from 33 in 2016 to 817 in 2021, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Multiple politicians have called on President Joe Biden to declare illicit fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction. They say doing so would allow for better coordination between federal agencies.
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) introduced legislation to make the distribution of fentanyl that results in death a felony murder offense.
There were more than 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of nearly 15% from the previous year. Synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl — accounted for more than three-quarters of those deaths.