Posted on February 25, 2019

Teens Smuggling Fentanyl over the Mexican Border Alarm Homeland Security Officials

Wendy Fry, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 25, 2019


In recent months, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations arrested four juveniles for allegedly smuggling hard narcotics into the country from Mexico.

“We’ve seen meth, heroin and fentanyl,” said David Shaw, HSI special agent in charge in San Diego. “They’re strapping it right onto their body without properly packaging it. And with fentanyl, a small amount can kill you.”

Last year, border agents arrested seven minors crossing at ports of entry in San Diego County allegedly smuggling fentanyl, a drug so potent that an amount as small as a few grains of salt can be lethal.

Minors were arrested 71 times apparently trying to smuggle meth and seven times in alleged attempts to smuggle in heroin in fiscal year 2018, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection numbers.

“They’re targeting teens because you can lure them a little easier with electronics or money,” Shaw said. “They tell them ‘You get across three times, and you get an iPhone.’”


HSI operates under Immigration and Customs Enforcement but it is a different branch — concerned only with serious criminal investigations, Shaw said. {snip}


Sometimes the teenagers don’t know what they are smuggling or realize that fentanyl is so deadly, federal officials said.

“It can be absorbed through the skin and even hurt people standing around them in line if it becomes airborne,” said Shaw.

Linda Dere, HSI’s deputy special agent in charge in San Diego who worked at the border early in her career, said San Diego juveniles engaging in smuggling isn’t a new phenomenon.

“Back in the day, they use to smuggle marijuana. But the part that is so concerning is what they are bringing is now becoming more hazardous,” Dere said.