Fentanyl bust 8-8-18-CBP
More than 20,000 Fentanyl pills were allegedly found inside a car of a man trying to cross the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Photo courtesy of the CBP

A Tijuana man was arrested at San Ysidro Port of Entry on Wednesday after federal agents allegedly found more than 20,000 fentanyl pills hidden in his car — a cache believed to be the largest amount of the deadly narcotic in pill form ever seized along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The seizure comes a week after agents found 61 pounds of methamphetamine, 14 pounds of heroin and just under 11,500 fentanyl pills in the car of a teen trying to cross the border. The bust was considered to the largest number of Fentanyl seized at the border until Wednesday.

Fernando Jesus Peraza, 38, was taken into custody at about 2:30 a.m., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.

Agents allegedly found the drug in four packages concealed in the passenger-side rear quarter panel of Peraza’s car. The pills were designed to resemble M30s, or oxycodone tablets, officials said.

At Peraza’s initial appearance in the case Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors requested that the suspect, a U.S. citizen who works in San Diego County, remain detained due to flight risk.

“This is the biggest fentanyl-pill seizure we’ve seen along the Southwest Border, and it’s likely a national record,” San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. “I’m relieved that these pills are off the streets because of the vigilant work of law enforcement.”

If convicted of the drug-smuggling charge against him, Peraza will face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $1 million fine, according to prosecutors.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill Burkhardt scheduled a detention hearing for Friday morning and a preliminary hearing for Aug. 21.

— City News Service