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Published on June 14, 2024
California Governor Newsom Boosts National Guard Force to Combat Fentanyl CrisisSource: California Office of the Governor

In a bold move to intensify the fight against the pernicious spread of fentanyl, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a significant increase in California National Guard troops assigned to counter-drug operations. The force, originally numbering 155 members, will now see a substantial leap to nearly 400 tasked with stymieing the flow of illegal narcotics like fentanyl, particularly at entry ports along the California border.

The stepped-up deployment comes after CalGuard's Counter Drug Taskforce's notable impact in apprehending shipments of the deadly drug. "Due to significant initial success, in 2023, we doubled our force across those Ports of Entry", CalGuard Major General Matthew Beevers disclosed, as cited by the California Office of the Governor, amplifying the effectiveness of the Taskforce under Newsom's expanded initiative. The comprehensive plan entails intelligence gathering, investigation support, and on-the-ground efforts to intercept fentanyl before it can wreak havoc within communities.

Last month's reports, highlighted a staggering seizure of 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl by operations supported by the California National Guard. These operations have contributed to a 1066% jump in fentanyl seizures since 2021, signifying a monumental 62,224 pounds of the drug intercepted in 2023 alone. This accomplishment reflects the priority given to disrupting drug trafficking routes exploited by transnational criminal organizations.

Contextualizing the crisis, the Department of Homeland Security has revealed startling statistics indicating that the bulk of fentanyl smuggling is executed by U.S. citizens at ports of entry, rather than asylum-seeking migrants. An alarming 70% of overdose deaths are now attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. In response, Governor Newsom launched—a comprehensive resource for substance abuse prevention and treatment—while also initiating plans for the state to acquire life-saving naloxone at a significantly reduced cost.

Aligned with efforts to clamp down on the fentanyl epidemic, Governor Newsom has also engaged with international counterparts. International collaboration was spotlighted when Governor Newsom spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping last October, underscoring cooperative measures to curb the transnational shipment of chemicals essential in manufacturing fentanyl, per the bilateral counternarcotics agreement with China, echoed by the Biden administration.