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Monday, April 22nd, 2024

U.S. Customs and Border Protection updates strategy to combat fentanyl, synthetic drugs

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According to an updated approach released last week by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) remains focused on the opioid epidemic while reckoning with an ever-changing landscape.

CBP planted its focus firmly around four areas: 

  • Promote collaboration and information-sharing to combat illicit synthetic drug networks
  • Produce actionable intelligence for targeting illicit synthetic drug networks
  • Conduct coordinated and unified intelligence and data-driven operations to target the production, trafficking, and distribution of illicit synthetic materials
  • Promote safe handling, protocols, and educational materials to protect the CBP workforce, families, and communities

“The Department of Homeland Security is combating the scourge of fentanyl and other illicit synthetic narcotics with every tool at our disposal,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said. “We have stopped more fentanyl in the last two years than in the previous five years combined and continue to optimize our intelligence and field operations to stop these deadly substances from hitting our streets. At the same time, we are cracking down on the ruthless cartels and criminal organizations that are responsible.”

Despite this positive outlook, Mayorkas paired that update with a call to Congress to provide CBP with additional resources, equipment, and personnel to continue its efforts. Those, he noted, were accounted for in the Biden administration’s supplemental budget request – a request held up on the Congressional end by weeks without a Speaker of the House. 

Fentanyl and its analogues, as well as methamphetamine and legal precursors being used for illicit purposes, are all on the DHS radar. To turn attention into action, though, CBP intends to make its ongoing war on drugs into an interagency effort across the scope of federal, state, and local organizations. 

With the release of the updated strategy, CDP also announced Operation Apollo, a counter-fentanyl joint operation based in southern California. There, agents will gather intelligence and aid law enforcement in disrupting drug and chemical supplies. 

It follows other successful operations, such as Operation Artemis – a four-month push that ended in September 2023. Focused on the southwest border, it concluded with more than 13,000 pounds of fentanyl precursor chemicals, 1,160 pounds of methamphetamine, and 11,230 pounds of other finished synthetic drugs seized by CBP, among others.