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N4T Investigators: CBP comes across drug never documented on Southwest border

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Yaba pills

NOGALES, Ariz. (KVOA) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection is seeing a surge of dangerous drugs entering the border the past year but they recently came across something they have never seen on the border before.

CBP is on the front lines of a deadly fentanyl crisis plaguing communities across the country, a majority of the drugs are flowing through the Nogales Port of Entry.

Last month CBP made multiple large drug seizures of fentanyl, included in one batch though was something unusual.

In a load of fentanyl they found a bag of around 300 so-called Yaba pills. According to the Department of Justice, Yaba pills are a mixture of meth and caffeine. The pills are more popular in Asian countries and communities and popular among the rave scene.

"First time we've seen it here," said Nogales Port Director Michael Humphries.

Could it be a sign of a concerning trafficking trend to come? Captain John Leavitt with the Tucson Police Department and local narcotics task force doesn't believe so.

He said his team has not been coming across any Yaba pills in their investigations.

He believes the batch seized in Nogales sounds like a very specific order for someone. He said it's not uncommon for loads of fentanyl to include other obscure drugs.

"Meth that comes from Mexico is much more popular in this region and just as deadly," he said.

He doesn't believe the caffeine does anything significant to increase the danger of Yaba pills, he said it is more of a frightening marketing tool to younger people.

"Always be careful about what pills people are offering or have on hand, never take a pill that doesn't come from a licensed pharmacist across the counter from that pharmacist," he explained.

It remains clear that fentanyl is the biggest threat coming through the border, which has left a trail of death across the country.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators earlier this year revealed how fentanyl was the number one cause of death for Pima County teenagers last year, according to data from the Medical Examiner. 

Theresa Guerrero knows the danger all too well. Her son died after using cocaine laced with fentanyl.

"He was on the ground with about six paramedics around him trying to revive him. Kept screaming, crying, praying and asking them if he's ok to no avail," she said.

Whether it's fentanyl or Yaba pills she wants there to be harsher sentences for drug dealers.

"They are killing our kids for money and I always say we will most likely never figure out who did this to my son but I know we will get justice with God in the end," she said.

If you have a story you'd like the N4T Investigators to look into email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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