DEA Seizes 1.5 Tons of Meth in Second-Largest Bust Ever

A mock methamphetamine lab for teaching purposes at the National Clandestine Laboratory Training and Research Facility
A mock methamphetamine lab for teaching purposes at the National Clandestine Laboratory Training and Research Facility / Getty Images
October 12, 2020

Federal agents have seized over 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine, as well as large volumes of fentanyl and heroin, at the southwestern border, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Sunday.

Customs and Border Protection officers seized the drugs on Friday morning from a tractor trailer attempting to cross into the United States at the Otay Mesa port of entry in Southern California. The truck's contents were listed as medical supplies, but when officers inspected it they found nearly 2,000 packages, containing 3,014 pounds of methamphetamine, 64 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of fentanyl powder, and almost 37 pounds of fentanyl pills.

In total, the DEA said, the drugs were worth an estimated $7.2 million. Friday's bust is the second-largest methamphetamine seizure since CBP was formed in 2003.

"This massive seizure is a testament of what law enforcement agencies can do when we combine forces—prevent over $7 million worth of deadly drugs from entering our country, thus saving countless lives from addiction and overdose deaths," said DEA official John W. Callery. "DEA cherishes our great law enforcement partners in San Diego, especially those who work tirelessly to protect our nation’s borders. We will continue to work together to disrupt drug trafficking organizations at every opportunity we are given."

Although Friday's bust was massive, it represents just a small fraction of the drugs that regularly flow across the southwestern border. According to official CBP statistics, agents seized over 140,000 pounds of methamphetamine between September 2019 and August 2020. That represents a 106 percent increase compared with FY 2019, and an over 600 percent increase since FY 2014.

This wave of methamphetamine, driven by mass production across the border in Mexico, has become a quiet killer of thousands of Americans a year. Preliminary CDC data indicate some 16,000 people died from meth overdoses in 2019 alone, up from 14,000 in 2018 and just 2,300 in 2010. As of the most recent data, methamphetamine is officially the second-deadliest contributor to America's polydrug crisis, following only the ultrapotent synthetic opioid fentanyl and its analogs.

Published under: Drugs