(NewsNation) — As drugs continue to be smuggled into the U.S. by cartels, the issue is becoming much larger than the border states.
“Every state is a border state, because every state is affected,” said Art Del Cueto, vice president of the U.S. Border Patrol Council.
Drugs like fentanyl are continuing to pour into the country through the southern border.
“That’s where the groups are coming in. That’s where the drugs are coming in. But they’re not staying here. They’re going everywhere in the country,” Del Cueto said.
More than 23.6 million fentanyl pills were seized at one port of entry in Arizona alone since the fiscal year began, but it doesn’t stop there.
New images are showing what Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez said are members of drug trafficking organizations from Mexico smuggling drugs between ports of entry in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Some of these drugs are being combined, which we call polyloads, where you may see marijuana and cocaine together or you may see methamphetamine and fentanyl together, so you never know what you’re going to encounter,” Olivarez said.
Olivarez says drug bundles may be headed to stash houses along the border, and that’s how he believes drugs are getting further into the interior of the U.S. undetected.
The cartel-orchestrated drug and human smuggling activities, which begins along the southern border, is moving north. Human smugglers are sharing the highways and byways with everyday Americans. The latest bust happened along the Ohio turnpike.
The suspect? A man from Mexico who has been removed from the United States 40 times since 2006.
The prolific human smuggler loaded up the 11 undocumented individuals in New Mexico and was set to drop them off in various locations along the East Coast, including Pennsylvania and Florida.
Chief Patrol Agent Robert Danley said it was a collaborative effort to thwart the smuggling attempt.
“Without these partnerships, this human smuggling event that originated on the southwest border would have likely been successful and the repeated disregard of our laws by the smuggler would have been ultimately rewarded,” Danley said.
The undocumented individuals generally cross the border and walk miles until they are picked up by a load vehicle.
Then, they are often transported to stash houses like one in El Paso, where 42 migrants were found. These stash houses serve as a place to hide out and await their ride to their next destination.
Officials said they pay the cartel every step of the way.
“These cartels or the individuals that are smuggling them, they’ll hold these people hostage until the money is paid,” Del Cueto explained.
As for the driver out of Ohio, NewsNation reached out to the United State’s Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, but has not heard back yet.
Typically in those cases, the driver would be charged with human smuggling. But because the particular driver was removed 40 times, he is likely to face additional charges for illegal re-entry.