Fentanyl smuggled in wooden display boxes seized by Memphis customs agents

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Would-be fentanyl smugglers got a little crafty at an express consignment hub in Memphis, Tennessee, recently, but the ruse ultimately failed.

According to a news release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers took a closer look Aug. 24 at a package labeled as “wood crafts art and technique of making.”

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The shipment, which originated in Michoacan, Mexico, included unvarnished wooden boxes with hinged lids that contained wooden crafts, such as a miniature rolling pin. The boxes had been bound for a southeast Houston residence.

According to customs agents, an X-ray identified anomalies within two of the boxes, and investigators discovered an off-white powdery substance along the inside linings of the display boxes. The substance, later confirmed in lab testing to be fentanyl, had been placed “within gaps created by a double walling of the interior of the boxes,” the CBP stated.

The small seizure netted only 2.85 kilograms of the narcotic, similar to morphine but roughly 100 times more potent, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration contends that “one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people,” the agency stated.

“This 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. That’s a lot of poison to be shipped to a residence in southeast Houston,” Acting Area Port Director Benjamin Canfield said in a prepared statement, noting his pride in his officers for working tirelessly to “stop these substances from reaching the wrong hands.”