Border agency spent $25M on devices that can't detect common form of fentanyl

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Customs and Border Protection's Office of Field Operations has spent nearly $25.6 million since 2016 on devices that can't detect fentanyl at commonly low purity levels, an investigation found last month.

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The 279 small-scale devices purchased cannot identify fentanyl and other narcotics at purity levels of 10 percent or lower. This is a problem because much of the fentanyl that CBP seizes at the southwest border is low purity.

"[Office of Field Operations] cannot ensure that it is protecting the United States from criminals smuggling fentanyl with purity levels less than or equal to 10 percent, thereby increasing the risk of fentanyl or other illicit narcotics entering the country," the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General said in its report published Sept. 30.

How did this happen? The Office of Field Operations did not require comprehensive testing of the devices before purchasing them, according to the report.

The Office of Field Operations does not have "adequate" policies for updating the screening devices either, the inspector general said.

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CBP said in a letter it agreed with the inspector general recommendations and has taken steps to put them into action. CBP said it could take until July 2020 to implement all the fixes.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid — two milligrams can be deadly.

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FOX Business' inquiries to CBP were not returned at the time of publication.

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