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DENVER (KDVR) — U.S. border drug seizures shine a light on how Colorado’s fentanyl crisis has grown as smugglers focus more on the synthetic.

Colorado law enforcement has seized more of the deadly opiate fentanyl this year than any on record. In-state seizures have ballooned as the number of overdoses has skyrocketed.

A report from the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking explains how fentanyl has grown into such a widespread problem in the U.S. Drug sellers have shifted to the synthetic because it is cheaper, stronger and easier to smuggle than naturally-derived opioids such as heroin or morphine.

At the southwestern U.S. border, fentanyl seizures have mushroomed the same way they have locally.

Fentanyl is a small fraction of the overall drug poundage seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at either the U.S.’s southern or northern borders. But it has grown rapidly in the last two years, according to the Department of Homelands Security’s records. The yearly amount of fentanyl seized has risen nearly sixfold since 2019.

Officials seized 2,300 pounds of fentanyl this August alone and 2,200 in July, the overwhelming majority of which came from the southwestern border.

This is a massive uptick. Before July, the previous 12 months averaged less than 1,000 pounds of fentanyl seized per month. Three years ago, officials were seizing 100-200 pounds per month.

At the same time, border agents have seized less and less heroin.

In 2019, officials seized 6,200 pounds of heroin. That shrank yearly until bottoming out at 1,700 pounds so far in the fiscal year 2022, which stretches from October to October.