WASHINGTON: While marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine seizures have remained steady or increased slightly over the past two years, the Yuma Sector Border Patrol reports that heroin seizures have dropped off sharply.
The same can’t be said, however, for the amount of heroin being seized at the county’s ports of entry, according to U.S. Customs figures.
Agent Thomas D Lines, of the Yuma Sector Public Affairs Office, said in fiscal year 2013 agents seized 37 pounds of heroin, compared to 9.5 pounds that was seized in fiscal year 2014, which ended on Aug. 31.That is a significant drop,” Lines said.
Of the 9.5 pounds of heroin seized last fiscal year, Yuma station agents seized 2.6 pounds, Wellton station agents 4.2 pounds and Blythe station agents 2.7 pounds. Heroin currently has a street value of $14,091 per kilo (1 kilo equals 2 lbs. 3.274 ounces), the highest in value compared to the other drugs.
Most of the seizures, Lines added, have happened at checkpoints.
Officer Teresa Small, chief public affairs liaison for the U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Tucson Field Office, which oversees Yuma’s ports, said that 438 lbs. 11.5 oz. of heroin was seized in fiscal year 2013 throughout the sector and another 656 lbs. 15.6 oz. in fiscal year 2014.
Lines said it is hard to explain why the Yuma Sector Border Patrol has seen a decrease in the amount of heroin being seized, but there could be many reasons why it is happening.
Lines said while smuggling attempts vary by method, agents are starting to see a lot of what are known as body-carries. The latest method, he added, seems to be smugglers trying to hide the drug in the bottom of their shoes.
“It is interesting to see the methods smugglers use ” he said. “They are only limited by their creativity.”
Small said officers at the ports have found heroin and other types of drugs concealed throughout vehicles, in such places as the tires, gas tank, roof, floors, rocker panels, quarter panels and dashboards.
CBP officers are also reporting body carrying attempts in which the drug has been taped to a person’s body, such as their waist line, crotch area, thighs, breasts or ankles.
“We have not found that there is a specific concealment method used based on drug type,” Small said.
Both Small and Lines say despite the figures, heroin still seems to remain a popular drug, but could not speculate as to the why.
Heroin is also considered a high-profit drug with its value based on the region of distribution. What makes the drug so appealing to smugglers is that a small amount can make a large profit and it can be easily concealed.