In late 2022, Texas made the largest liquid fentanyl bust in U.S. history, seizing enough liquid fentanyl to kill over 5 million people. Frighteningly, that's only 3 gallons worth.

The fentanyl, worth nearly $2 million, was found during a routine traffic stop and was hidden in a compartment in the vehicle's gas tank.

Despite the heroic efforts of Texas Border Control agents, fentanyl is flowing into the state in even more massive amounts than ever before. What is going wrong?

Texas Governor Abbott Holds Fentanyl Crisis Roundtable And Press Conference
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In 2022, over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl was seized on the Southern border, in 2023, a whopping 26,700 pounds. This larger seizure is symptomatic of more fentanyl coming into the States.

CBP data also shows illicit fentanyl smuggling is increasing, and that most of the fentanyl seized by the Border Patrol and OFO is coming across the southern border.

The increase has been simply astronomical. In 2020, only 4,600 pounds were seized. Fentanyl distribution, use, and overdoses are epidemic in the U.S. and are only getting worse. 

When the history of the fentanyl crisis is written, 2023 may be remembered as the year Americans woke up [...] For the first time in U.S. history, fatal overdoses peaked above 112,000 deaths.

A huge part of the problem is that fentanyl, in combination with other very dangerous synthetic opioids like xylazine and nitazenes, is made to look like other drugs, including prescription pills.

A person may think they are doing cocaine or even just a prescription ADHD drug, and can overdose and die easily. Large groups of people have all died together sharing drugs that were far too potent to survive.

Attorney General Garland Discusses New Plans To Reduce Fentanyl Supply
Fentanyl Victims , Getty Images

READ MORE: How Texans Can Get Free Narcan Delivered To Their Homes 

If you suspect illegal immigrants as the primary culprit of fentanyl smuggling, that's simply incorrect:

Evidence indicates that illicit fentanyl is primarily brought to the U.S. by American citizens and usually through legal ports of entry. The calculation is simple: illicit drug smuggling organization are likely to prefer U.S. citizens as smugglers because they are less likely to raise alarms


So what is going wrong? What Can Be Done?

Border Agents simply did not have enough resources- it's like attempting to sandbag a tsunami. If the U.S. does invest in advanced technology, increased personnel, and surge operations, a lot more fentanyl could be captured before it can kill.

However, the ultimate solution is unfortunately the most complex: we need to address the demand for the drug. That will take a massive and very expensive effort. Even under the most earnest implementation of new policies, many more will die before the fentanyl crisis comes to a close (if it ever does).

The Biggest Drug Busts in Texas for 2023...So Far

While it's nowhere near the amount of busts made in 2021 and 2022, the year 2023 has been a busy one for Texas law enforcement. Take a look at just a few of the Lone Star state's biggest and most notable drug busts. We'll keep this updated throughout the year!

**Last updated: September 23, 2023

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark/TSM

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Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark/TSM

SEARCHING: Texas Girls Reported Missing In 2023

Below is a list of female youths from Texas who have been reported missing. The contact information for their hometown law enforcement has been provided for each one.

This is a continuously updated list and once a youth has been located, they will be removed from the list.

All information taken from

Gallery Credit: Sarah Clark/TSM

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