'Operation Plaza Strike' to target fentanyl trafficking at U.S-Mexico border

By Mike Heuer

April 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is launching an offensive targeting Mexican drug cartels that enable deadly fentanyl to flow into the United States, the CBP announced Wednesday.

The goal of "Operation Plaza Strike" is to disrupt the flow of fentanyl and the ingredients used to make the synthetic opioid that has become a leading death of young Americans.


"Operation Plaza Spike is a critical step in our ongoing ... campaign to directly attack the transnational criminal organizations that peddle narcotics, death and destruction for profit," said Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of Homeland Security. "We are sparing no effort to dismantle cartels and ensure everyone from kingpins to plaza bosses are brought to justice."

The federal law enforcement operation will target the plazas, or areas, that control the fentanyl smuggling into the United States and the plaza bosses, starting with the Nogales Plaza allegedly run by Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, who the CBP says is a leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

The tactics to be used include seizing the proceeds from the illicit trade of fentanyl and more closely monitoring business entities and people involved in the drug's cross-border trade.


"We are going after the plaza bosses, whose organizations are responsible for virtually everything that is smuggled into the United States," said Troy Miller, CBP senior official performing the duties of the commissioner.

"By targeting them for enforcement action, we can directly impact their operations and ability to traffic fentanyl into the United States, which makes its way into communities all across the country," Miller added.

Fentanyl is the nation's leading cause of death among people between ages 18 and 45 and accounts for about 70% of more than 107,000 overdose deaths during the past year.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says there are two types of fentanyl.

One is pharmaceutical fentanyl made by pharmaceutical companies use prescribed by doctors to treat people with severe pain, particularly after operations or while dealing with advanced-stage cancer.

The other is illegally made fentanyl, which causes most of the fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths and might be made prior to entering the United States or from ingredients brought into the country.

Illegally made fentanyl might be in liquid or powder form and commonly is used to spike other illicit drugs, such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, due to its extreme potency.


Latest Headlines