(NewsNation) — Customs and Border Protection agents this weekend seized another 47,000 brightly colored fentanyl pills that officials warn are putting children in danger.
The pills were seized at the Nogales, Arizona, port of entry on Saturday, Port Director Michael W. Humphries said on Twitter. Another 186,000 blue fentanyl pills and 6 1/2 pounds of methamphetamine were found in the floor compartment of a vehicle trying to pass through the land checkpoint.
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently issued an advisory about the “rainbow” fentanyl pills, which authorities say are meant to look like candy and are being used to target young Americans.
Estimates put the number of fentanyl pills seized at ports of entry at 4 million since the start of August. A rise in drug smuggling has worsened the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stats released in May show that there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in 2021 — a jump of almost 15% from 2020, which was 30% higher than the year before that. Fentanyl alone killed more than 70,000 people in 2021 and 57,000 in 2020.
A day before Saturday’s seizure, agents at the Nogales port found another 2,300 rainbow fentanyl pills along with more than 25,000 traditional and dark blue pills in a pickup, as well as 35,000 traditional pills in the air intake of a motorcycle.
The pills have been making their way inland this year, with the DEA making discoveries in at least 18 states.
Florida’s attorney general has called on President Joe Biden to classify fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction, and one sheriff in the state said the smuggling is making “every town in America a border town.”