Harder drugs, higher profits: U.S.-Mexico border sees a shift in the kinds of drugs seized

, The Republic | azcentral.com Published 6:42 p.m. MT Feb. 23, 2018

TUCSON — Border agents and officers confiscated less drugs overall at the U.S.-Mexico border last year, but seizures of hard drugs like heroin and methamphetamine spiked to the highest levels in years.

The numbers reflect the trend of cartels turning to more potent drugs in pursuit of profits, as U.S. states decriminalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.

The decrease in overall seizures can be attributed to a significant drop in pot busts at the border, nearly a third less compared to the previous year.

“It’s all about supply and demand,” said Rodolfo Karisch, chief agent for Tucson sector Border Patrol. “When there’s places here in the U.S. that you can get it (marijuana), I think it sends the message to the organizations that are smuggling marijuana that there is just not a need for that commodity any more.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the federal agency in charge of securing the nation’s borders, provided The Arizona Republic with a breakdown of drug-seizure statistics through a public records request.