Cannabis seizures fall for 3 reasons as drug cartels favor fentanyl and migrant smuggling

June illegal drug seizures at international borders and highway checkpoints increased 25% from May, according to a report from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Compared to the previous year, average daily seizures of marijuana, cocaine and heroin fellwhile fentanyl seizures are at a similar level.

The largest decline in seizures was seen in cannabis. Why?

According to crime and law enforcement experts, drug cartels are moving away from dealing weed because of so many legalization efforts in the US., writes Border Report. Among the most significant recent developments is the unveiling this week of long-awaited US Senate legislation that would decriminalize and declassify cannabis at the federal level, while promoting social equity.

Drug cartels also see higher profits from the production of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and methamphetamines. Fentanyl seizures remain in line with last year’s rates, while methamphetamine seizures are slightly lower.

“Cartels are faster, more agile and smarter than our reaction. They adapt very quickly,” said Victor M. Manjarrez Jr.., a former senior U.S. Border Patrol agent and director of the Center for Law and Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Otherwise, criminal groups also choose migrant smuggling over marijuana smuggling. Mexican law enforcement officials in Chihuahua reported that gang members had taken over the operations of freelance smugglers.

In fiscal year 2021, Department of Homeland Security agencies seized 160 tons of cannabis or 874 pounds per day on average. With three months left in the current fiscal year, officers have seized 56 tons or 408 pounds per day on average.

Increase in fentanyl seizures

Independently, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in El Paso revealed local sector data to Border Report revealing similar plummeting trends in seizures of cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. On the other hand, seizures of a powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl (a major contributor to the opioid overdose death crisis in the United States), are on the rise. The data follows a video warning announcement released by the Senate GOP Doctors Caucus alerting to the dangers of fentanyl.

“Fentanyl kills over 200 Americans every day,” the senator said. John Barrasso (R-WY). “Unfortunately, many Americans who have died of drug overdoses didn’t even know they were taking the deadliest drug our country has ever seen.”

In the first nine months of fiscal year 2022, police departments are seizing an average of 51.8 pounds of cannabis, 3.97 pounds of cocaine and 0.4 pounds of heroin daily. By comparison, in 2021, those averages stood at 86.5, 6.4, and 0.66 pounds per day, respectively.

Photo: Courtesy of US Customs and Border Protection – CBP Drug Seizures Southwest Border via Wikimedia Commons

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