U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Texas in recent weeks have had multiple encounters with people attempting to smuggle fentanyl "concealed internally within their bodies," according to the agency.
The first encounter came on June 6 at the Ysleta border crossing near El Paso, Texas. CBP officers working there encountered a 34-year-old American woman who they say was attempting to smuggle 0.23 pounds of fentanyl concealed inside her "rectal cavity."
Less than a week later, CBP officers working the pedestrian lanes at the Paso Del Norte border crossing encountered another 34-year-old woman attempting to smuggle 0.14 pounds of fentanyl.
The woman was referred for a secondary inspection where a CBP canine alerted officers to the possible presence of drugs on the woman. CBP officers conducted a pat-down and discovered a drug-filled balloon that had dislodged from her vaginal cavity, according to the agency.
Two days later, CBP officers again working the pedestrian lanes at the Paso del Norte border crossing encountered a 47-year-old American woman who they say was attempting to smuggle 0.07 pounds of fentanyl. The woman was referred for a secondary inspection.
During a pat-down, CBP officers felt a "foreign object" in her groin area. The woman allegedly admitted to the officers she was carrying drugs and voluntarily removed a bundle from her vaginal cavity, according to CBP.
CBP officers arrested all subjects and turned them over to Homeland Security Investigations and other federal agencies for prosecution.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid drug that has been blamed for a spike in overdose deaths in recent months. Last year, for the first time, more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over a 12-month period, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with about two-thirds of those deaths linked to fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.