LAX On Frontline of Fight to Stop Fentanyl


Customs agents sift through thousands of packages to stop tide of fentanyl

As the fentanyl crisis continues to claim lives all across the country, officials have turned their attention to the source – packages arriving from China to airports such as LAX.

As reported in the Economist, last summer officers at an LAX customs warehouse found three live King Cobras coiled into aerated potato-crisp cans. On a recent morning they found nothing creepy or crawly, only bags full of dried orange skins and Chinese meat snacks disguised as candy. Mostly, however, they found drugs: counterfeit Viagra, vials of steroids and small plastic bags full of unidentified white powders.

Officers are particularly worried about one drug: fentanyl. Kevin McAleenan, the acting commissioner of CBP, says the drug is the agency’s priority.

A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. The drug is largely behind the increase in America’s drug-overdose death rate. Between June 2015 and June 2017, overdose deaths rose by 34%.

The Los Angeles warehouse represents one of the front lines in the government’s fight to keep illicit fentanyl out of the country. “We and the warehouse at JFK (New York’s international airport), we’re ground zero,” says Rolando Knight, a veteran CBP officer who supervises the Los Angeles operation. In its illegal form, fentanyl is mostly produced in China.

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To read more about how agents at LAX are working to stop the flow of fentanyl into the country, please visit The Economist.

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