SAN DIEGO – As America battles its deadliest drug epidemic in history, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is launching a new mission to increase its efforts to fight fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. Operation Apollo involves several different government agencies working together to target the precursors used to make fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. The mission will start in the San Diego area and then expand to other cities, including Portland, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
CBP officers will increasingly work with air carriers, the postal service and other logistic companies to share information about suspicious goods and potential illicit drug transit routes.
“The problem is compounded by the fact that many precursors are used for legitimate purposes and may be legally imported and exported, making it difficult to disrupt the movement of these chemicals. By targeting suspicious locations and recipients that demonstrate patterns of illicit activity, CBP can disrupt the supply chain,” CBP wrote in a press release.
Officials say that these goods are arriving increasingly through air cargo from Asia to airports in the U.S., and then drug traffickers drive the cargo south into Mexico where cartels manufacture the drug and send it back to the U.S. to be sold illegally. In addition to chemicals, the CBP will target other legal goods, including molds and pill presses.
Troy Miller, the acting commissioner of CBP, told NBC San Diego that one-fifth of all passengers that enter the U.S. come through San Diego, and nearly half of the agency’s seizures of fentanyl happen in the San Diego sector.
“In my thirty years as a customs official, the trafficking of synthetic illicit drugs like fentanyl is one of the toughest, most daunting challenges I have ever seen. Through this updated strategy, we will channel the incredible efforts of the men and women of CBP to keep this and other drugs out of the country,” said Miller.
Last month CBP wrapped up Operation Artemis, which led to more than 900 seizures, including more than 13,000 pounds of fentanyl.