El Paso, Texas — Along the U.S.-Mexico border, drug cartels are seizing an opportunity.
“We are seeing that the cartels are exploiting our current influx of unaccompanied children as well as our influx of single adults and they’re bringing hard drugs,” said U.S. Border Patrol agent Joel Freeland.
Freeland said U.S. manpower focused on human smuggling is enabling traffickers to move a staggering among of drugs, including 59 pounds of fentanyl, a highly lethal drug, which was seized by Texas law enforcement in the last six months.
Elizabeth Carter of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the result could have been “mass casualty” if the fentanyl had reached the streets.
In a year, fentanyl seizures have jumped 800% in Texas, and the drugs coming across the southern border are fueling an unprecedented epidemic across the U.S.
The toll can be counted in the skyrocketing number of deaths from overdoses. Among them was 20-year-old Jacob Del Hierro of Colorado.
“I wake up most days in a state of shock. I cannot believe that I lost a child,” his father Chris Del Hierro said.
Del Hierro is among the more than 88,000 Americans who died from overdoses in the 12 months ending October 2020, up 19,000 from the same period the year before.
“It’ll live with me for the rest of my life. My wife had to watch as I screamed and begged for my son to breathe,” Chris Del Hierro said.