DEA agent on Fentanyl Awareness Day: ‘We seized more pills than the number of residents in the state of New Mexico’

By Sam Jackson

Feb 28, 2023

Local leaders, state representatives and families gathered at the state capitol in Albuquerque recently to share their stories in observance of Fentanyl Awareness Day.

“We seized more pills than the number of residents in the state of New Mexico,” Carlos Briano of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Division in El Paso, Texas, said. Briano’s division serves New Mexico as well as El Paso, Alpine and Midland, Texas, KOAT reported.

At the capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 22, families who have been impacted by the drug spoke from the heart of the pain of dealing with addictions, and in some cases, the death of loved ones resulting from fentanyl, the article said. Viviana Sena lost her daughter, Grace, to the drug five years ago, she told KOAT.

“It was one of the most heart-wrenching things I had ever done for my child,” she said of seeking help for Grace. Sena also demanded that more be done to battle the fentanyl crisis. 

“There’s not enough resources for parents, you know,” she said. “We need more.”

Despite seizing more than 2.3 million fentanyl pills in the state in 2022, the DEA reports that the issue has reached historical proportions in New Mexico. According to the article, the New Mexico Department of Health reports a decline in fentanyl deaths since 2019 yet Briano said the problem transcends state boundaries and is of global proportions, turning his district into a battleground.

“Once (dealers) get into El Paso, they can go west, they can go east, they can go north,” Briano told KOAT.

As agents like Briano battle the epidemic, Sena and others continue to fight to prevent their families from losing loved ones to fentanyl. 

“I wish I would have known where to turn, how to have support,” she said in the article.

Briano said people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the epidemic within the community.

“Start talking about what it is, we need to start talking about the dangers associated with fentanyl,” he told KOAT.

Sena said that people need to continue to be optimistic. 

“There is hope,” she said in the news story. “There is always hope.” 

The DEA encourages anyone affected by fentanyl to visit its website for more information and resources.

Help save New Mexico by telling lawmakers to OPPOSE HB 263 “Safe Spaces for Drug Use” HERE!