Los Angeles/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 13, 2024
California Governor Newsom Bolsters National Guard at U.S.-Mexico Border to Combat Fentanyl SmugglingSource: X/California Governor

In a significant enforcement escalation, Governor Gavin Newsom has increased the presence of the California National Guard at the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the ongoing battle against fentanyl smuggling. As detailed by KTLA, the deployment of the Cal Guard’s Counter Drug Taskforce has ballooned by 152%, rising from 155 to 392 service members, a move aimed squarely at the interception of illegal drug shipments at key ports.

According to a statement by Governor Newsom, sourced from the Governor's Office, the enhanced deployment endeavors to protect Californian communities by reducing the influence of transnational criminal organizations. In his visit to the border, Newsom observed the progression made by the Taskforce, which, since its inception in 2022, started with an initial 30 service members dedicated to supporting federal partners at several southern ports.

Major General Matthew Beevers of the Cal Guard outlined the expansion of the Counter Drug Taskforce in a KTLA interview, acknowledging the sustained growth from its modest beginnings to the present robust team. The doubling of the task force's size in 2023 has now been followed by this latest surge in manpower, reflecting the perceived initial successes and broad Congressional support for these initiatives.

The intensified operations come in the wake of impressive seizure statistics as reported by Governor Newsom's office, which has supported the capture of 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl this year alone. In conjunction with the Governor's recent launch of the opioids.ca.gov website, this significant increase in the Counter Drug Taskforce's capacity is part of a statewide effort to mitigate the opioid crisis, one that has seen a 1066% increase in fentanyl seizures since 2021 according to the Governor's press release.

A notable aspect of the smuggling challenge, as stated by the Department of Homeland Security and reiterated by both sources, is that the majority of fentanyl is smuggled into the U.S. by U.S. citizens, and not migrants as often perceived. These efforts at the border come as a complement to international cooperative efforts, including Governor Newsom's dialogue with China's President Xi Jinping last October, aimed at stemming the flow of precursor chemicals needed to manufacture fentanyl.