SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he is deploying more National Guard troops to the border to help fight the opioid crisis.
According to the governor’s office, anywhere from 40 to 60 additional soldiers will be sent to the four U.S. ports of entry along the California-Mexico border to support the interdiction of illicit drugs, especially fentanyl.
Newsom believes U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s narcotic search operations require further support in light of nearly a six-fold increase in the amount of seized fentanyl in California last year.
The troops will operate vehicle X-ray systems used for detecting the transportation and concealment of narcotics and will not be involved with the interdiction or processing of migrants.
Last year, according to the governor’s office, CalGuard’s efforts helped law enforcement seize 28,765 lbs of fentanyl in California, an amount with an estimated street value of more than $230 million.
The seizures represented a 594 percent increase since California troops were sent to the border five years ago.
As of July 1, CalGuard helped seize over 11,760 lbs of fentanyl so far this year.
A majority of fentanyl is smuggled into the U.S. at ports of entry by U.S. citizens, not by migrants seeking asylum, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” said Newsom. “California is cracking down and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard service members to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”
California National Guardsmen were first sent to the border by then-Gov. Gerry Brown in 2018.
Their deployment is being funded through a $30 million investment proposed by Newsom and enacted in the state budget to expand the department’s existing drug interdiction efforts.