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Nearly 800 pounds of fentanyl worth $21.1 million found in shipment of green beans

Posted at 8:54 AM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-19 10:54:45-04

A recent shipment of green beans in California was packing a lot more than essential vitamins. On Monday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection found a shipment of the vegetable carrying more than 3.5 million fentanyl pills that have an estimated worth of $21.1 million.

Officials said in a press release on Tuesday that they found the hidden shipment at the Otay Mesa port in San Diego, California, when they inspected a 48-year-old driver's tractor trailer. Officials conducted a "non-intrusive inspection," officials said, during which time they found "irregularities," prompting them to bring in a narcotic detectors who then found the small blue pills.

Hidden with the beans were 308 packages of fentanyl pills, weighing just over 776 pounds.

"We're spilling the beans," CBP said in a statement.

CBP officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry discovered blue fentanyl pills concealed within a shipment of green beans.

The driver who was transporting the shipment has since been detained for allegations of attempted narcotic smuggling and is now in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP said.

The seizure and arrest comes as U.S. officials continue to warn about the potential impacts of the drug when it's mixed with the veterinary tranquilizer xylazine. The White House named the mixture an "emerging threat" last week, the first time the office has ever used the designation since it was created in 2019.

Xylazine, which has also been found combined with heroin, can cause slow both breathing and heart rates and even wound soft tissues.

Drug confiscations continue to be an issue at border patrol checkpoints, with officers conducting 471 fentanyl seizures from October 1 through the end of March. There have also been more than 4,200 methamphetamine seizures and more than 1.200 cocaine seizures during that time.

"This seizure provides insight and displays how our officers work together in collaboration to keep this dangerous drug off the streets," Otay Mesa port director Rosa Hernandez said.

Fentanyl shipments has been found hidden in food items before. Last year, authorities seized 12,000 suspected fentanyl pills that had been stuffed inside candy boxes at Los Angeles International Airport. The drug has also been found in flour bags, ground coffee cans and buffet-style pans filled with food.