Middle Tennessee a ‘central hub’ for drug trafficking, authorities say

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee serves as a hub for drug trafficking because of its geographical location with fentanyl serving as one of the biggest concerns plaguing the drug epidemic, according to law enforcement officials.

“It’s no secret that, you know, we know that Mexican cartels, drug trafficking organizations, whatever you want to call them, do have a role in the fentanyl and other drugs that are making it in, not just to Middle Tennessee, but the United States of America,” Lt. Matthew Boguskie with the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) explained.

Often when illicit drugs like fentanyl make it to Tennessee, Boguskie said it can be difficult to pin point exactly where it originated from.

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“We see a lot of it coming from the West Coast. We see some of it coming from the north, some we would probably actually be able to track back, maybe from another country, coming across the border,” he said.

In some cases it’s across the southern border through couriers known as mules, who smuggle drugs through legal ports of entry and Tennessee’s geographical location make it a trafficking hot spot.

“We’re a central hub. You have so many major interstates that cross directly through the mid-state, whether it is going east to west, north or south. So just by geographical happenstance, it becomes an easy hub for drugs to come in, be dispersed locally, or continue on to whatever, you know, end route,” Boguskie continued. “It’s just geographically, it’s kind of a perfect storm of our interstate system and our proximity to other end locations for the drugs that are being trafficked.”

As the drugs come in, the MNPD works with a number of agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to get them out. Last week, the MNPD said a rental vehicle that was transporting a large quantity of narcotics from Los Angeles to Nashville led to a massive drug bust spanning multiple states, resulting in four arrests and 120,000 fentanyl pills being seized.

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“It’s estimated that as little as two milligrams of fentanyl could be a potentially deadly dose. So when you start looking into these large seizures that you may see in the news, you know, kilograms, several kilograms, that’s a lot of lives saved. You know, there’s a million milligrams in a kilo gram, so potentially that’s 500,000 lives saved,” Boguskie said.

According to Boguskie, their outreach to educate people on the dangers of fentanyl is also an important part of their efforts to curb the problem.

“I think what we do well and what really helps the most is efforts we take with what we call, you know, outreach or diversion, to educate folks on the dangers of the fentanyl. You know, making the resources they have available to them known, trying to get Narcan or naloxone into the hands of folks that may be at risk, and really just educating the public about the dangers that exist in the opioid epidemic,” he said.

Boguskie added they are seeing fentanyl in the majority of street level drugs with statistics showing it was found in more than 75% of our overdose deaths in 2022 and 2023.

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“That’s kind of the scariest part of this. This whole epidemic is, you know, you have people that they have no intention of putting fentanyl into their body, but just by the nature of the drug itself and how it’s affected the overall drug trade, a lot of folks are unknowingly taking that in, and it’s causing a lot of heartache for folks.”

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