Prescription fentanyl packages. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A Tijuana man was arraigned in federal court Thursday on charges he smuggled into the United States nearly 6,000 pills containing the “ultra-deadly” drug fentanyl.

Jose Arturo Acevedo, 35, was indicted Wednesday on multiple counts related to the smuggling of 5,857 pills containing fentanyl, 55 pounds of methamphetamine, 24 pounds of cocaine and 12 pounds of heroin.

According to the original complaint filed in the case, Acevedo allegedly entered the San Ysidro Port of Entry on July 19 in his vehicle that contained 24 packages of drugs concealed in a speaker box behind the front seats.

In recent weeks, law enforcement officials have become increasingly concerned over the number of fentanyl seizures at border ports of entry and at U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints.

When fentanyl, a Schedule II synthetic opioid painkiller, is produced in clandestine laboratories, it can be 100 times more potent than morphine, officials said. Exposure to even a trace amount of fentanyl through inhalation or absorption through the skin can be fatal.

“We are extremely troubled by the number of fentanyl seizures we’ve seen recently,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “Drug users, listen up! This is life or death. If you are buying painkillers on the street and not the pharmacy, your drugs might contain fentanyl, and even minuscule amounts of fentanyl can have devastating consequences for those who abuse it or literally even touch it. The extreme danger of fentanyl cannot be overstated.”

According to authorities, fentanyl and its analogues are being produced to a large extent in China. Mexican drug cartels are purchasing fentanyl directly from China and producing fentanyl from precursors sourced from China.

–City News Service

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