Wooden Boxes Concealing Fentanyl That Could Kill 1.4M People Intercepted En Route to Houston

A shipment of fentanyl that could have killed over 1 million people was recently intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Memphis, Tennessee. CBP agents said that the narcotics were hidden in a package of wooden boxes.

The seizure occurred on August 24 when CBP officers in Memphis discovered a package going from Michoacán, Mexico, to Houston, according to a CBP press release. The package was described in the paperwork as "wood crafts art and technique of making."

"The shipment consisted of unvarnished wooden boxes with hinged lids, inside of which were wooden crafts, such as a little rolling pin," the press release said.

CBP officers used an X-ray machine to further investigate the packages and discovered "anomalies" inside the wooden boxes.

After noticing the anomalies, CBP officers conducted an "intrusive inspection" of the inside linings of the wooden boxes and discovered "an off-white powdery substance" hidden within them. The white powdery substance was hidden in "gaps created by a double walling of the interior of the boxes," the press release said.

CBP officers then used a dog to inspect the white powdery substance, which provided officers with a positive indication that it was narcotics.

"A field test tentatively displayed the properties of Fentanyl and the onsite CBP lab confirmed. Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance that is similar to morphine but about 100 times more potent," the press release said. It added that the wooden boxes contained a total of 2.85 kilos of fentanyl.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says that fentanyl is usually distributed by drug trafficking organizations by the kilogram, noting that 1 kilo of the narcotic "has the potential to kill 500,000 people."

The CBP's acting area port director, Benjamin Canfield, said in the press release that this amount of fentanyl "might seem like a small seizure from a little handicraft gift box, but if we look at those DEA numbers, this had the potential to overdose or kill 1.425 million people."

Fentanyl seizure
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents recently seized over 2 kilograms of fentanyl hidden inside wooden crafts boxes. U.S. Customs and Border Protection/

"That's a lot of poison to be shipped to a residence in southeast Houston. I'm proud of my officers and the work they do every shift to stop these substances from reaching the wrong hands," Canfield added.

According to CBP data, from October to July over 9,000 pounds of fentanyl have been seized by border agents, which is more than the amount in each of the past three years.

Newsweek reached out to CBP for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.