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Smugglers using livestock trailers to transport fentanyl

DEL RIO, Texas (NewsNation) — Officials at the U.S.-Mexico border are sounding the alarm as they say smugglers are using livestock to move fentanyl into the U.S. undetected.

According to a Customs and Border Patrol memo obtained by NewsNation, officers are being instructed to be mindful of a “trailer smuggling trend,” where smugglers are shoving drugs inside of the side rails and metal framing of livestock trailers.

The alert originated out of Nogales, Arizona, where an unprecedented 45.8 million fentanyl pills were seized in 2023. Nearly 24 million have been nabbed during this fiscal year, according to the Nogales port director.

Law enforcement says the smugglers’ tactics are constantly changing, keeping them on their toes.

“The cartels are always a step ahead of us,” said Terrell County Sheriff Thaddeus Cleveland. “Whether it’s in between the ports of entry or actually at the ports of entry. It makes you wonder how long have they been getting away with it?”

Officials estimate they only catch between 5 and 10% of the drugs coming into the country.