DEA: Fentanyl staying in El Paso after crossing border

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement El Paso Division is seeing an increase in fentanyl seizures, explaining that the drug crosses over the border and is staying in El Paso.

“What we used to say is that the drugs would come in through our community and then head elsewhere through our interstate system they could go west they could go east they could go north. That’s not the case anymore, we’re seeing more and more drugs remain in El Paso,” said Carlos Briano the Public Information Officer for the DEA El Paso Division.

Briano says there are two Mexico drug cartels, Sinaloa Cartel, and Cartel Jalisco New Generation who are responsible for the majority of the fentanyl production globally.

“It comes through any method that you can think of they use those methods, legal and illegal. And they’re coming into not just our country but into Europe into North America into South America, there’s a market for fentanyl all over the world,” said Briano.

According to a 2021 report by the El Paso County Office of the Medical Examiner, fentanyl was the number one drug reported in multiple drug-related deaths in El Paso.

With a total of 92 multiple drug-related deaths reported and 60 of those being fentanyl.

The Medical Examiners report from 2020 shows how the number of deaths has increased, as the number of multiple drug related deaths due to fentanyl was 23.

An El Paso drug recovery center, Aliviane said they are seeing an increase in fentanyl overdoses within the community.

“We have seen a spike in the use of fentanyl in the community and reported cases of overdose when we do drug tests for clients who are coming in requesting services said Guillermo Valenzuela the Chief Corporate Officer for Aliviane.

Valenzuela says it’s important for the youth in El Paso to know that the likelihood of a young person accidentally taking fentanyl in El Paso is extremely high.

The El Paso Fire Department giving KTSM 9 News data for overall overdoses the department has responded to in the community not specific to fentanyl.

“That’s what happens with these accidental overdoses, they may be out trying some drug that they may think is Xanax, or they’re using THC in different forms and what we’ve learned is these drugs are being laced with fentanyl,” said Valenzuela.

In 2023 year to date, the fire department has responded to 137 overdoses in the El Paso community and in 2022 the total was 548.