The former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Special Operations Division Derek Maltz said in an interview with The Daily Caller that recent seizures across the U.S. indicate that cartels are manufacturing counterfeit pills in both powder and liquid forms.
“We are seeing fentanyl pill processing operations in America since the powder is getting in at record levels. Recently in South Carolina, they seized 7 pill presses in one location in York,” Maltz said, referring to a South Carolina October operation that involved the seizure of more than 30,000 grams of fentanyl.
As part of their U.S. pill-pressing operations, cartels and their distributors can produce 10,000 pills per hour with a market value of between $10 to $20 per pill.
“The profits are enormous, $100,000-$200,000 per hour in sales, which could yield $800,000 to $1,600,000 in sales per day from using a pill press in residences in America,” Maltz continued. “It only cost the cartels 15 cents to make a pill in Mexico, so the profit margin is huge by selling the fake pills."
Border agents in Texas have seized thousands of pounds worth of fentanyl in December alone, a trend that suggests cartels are moving their businesses across the southern border with Mexico.
“This demonstrates that the cartels have massive meth and fentanyl conversion labs set up in the USA to convert the drugs from liquid to powder," Maltz explained. "The reason they can set these labs up in our country is there are so many cartel operatives getting into the country freely. It’s easier to smuggle liquid than powder and this also shows how much demand there is for the deadly drugs in the country."
Drug-related fatalities remain a leading cause of death in the U.S., with around 107,000 Americans dying of overdoses in 2021 alone. That figure is expected to rise in 2022 as the Biden administration refuses to stop the thousands of people illegally crossing the border every day.