This week Arizona 360 took a closer look at how the state’s ongoing opioid epidemic has been impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Pima County Health Department that shows a rise in fentanyl overdoses this year coincides with an increase in opioid seizures at ports of entry along Arizona’s border with Mexico. Seizures for heroin and fentanyl are up more than 20% and 40%, respectively, according to Customs and Border Protection. Lorraine Rivera discussed trends at the ports with CBP Director of Field Operations Guadalupe Ramirez.
“Because of the travel restrictions that we have, we see a lot more body carriers coming in with fentanyl strapped to their body,” Ramirez said. “Now what you’re seeing is an increase in American citizens. And I think that’s because the travel restriction is really focused on if you’re not a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, you have to be traveling for essential purposes.”