FORT WORTH, Texas (Nexstar) — Texas is experiencing an increasing problem with the powerful opioid fentanyl, which can be very deadly in even extremely small doses.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the state’s fentanyl problem started last year but significantly escalated over the first four months of 2021.
“Well in addition to the people coming across the border, there is something else crossing the border,” the governor said in a news conference Thursday from Fort Worth. “It is unseen to the general public, but importantly, this unseen thing coming across the border is deadly dangerous.”
Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroine. Even just 2 mg of the drug is enough to kill someone.
Abbott said that in all of 2020, the Department of Public Safety seized 11 pounds of fentanyl, which is enough of the drug to administer 2.4 million lethal doses. In just the first four months of 2021, DPS has seized 95 pounds of fentanyl, which equals more than 21 million lethal doses.
Abbott added that the nearly 800% increase in fentanyl seizures in just the first four months of 2021 doesn’t even include fentanyl seized by other law enforcement agencies. He said it has killed people all over the state.
“Young unsuspecting Texans are buying drugs that are laced with fentanyl. They are buying a death sentence,” Abbott said.
Abbott highlighted the problem in Tarrant County, where he delivered Thursday’s news conference. Fentanyl seizures didn’t exist in the county before 2020, and you can see the huge escalation already in 2021.
Abbott highlighted a bill he plans to sign into law that he says will create a new criminal offense for the manufacture or delivery of fentanyl.
“The punishment begins as a third-degree felony, which will make this law one of the toughest drug laws in Texas,” Abbott said.
Abbott blames the Biden administration.
“Biden’s open border policies are unleashing deadly consequences,” Abbott claimed.
“Unaccompanied minors, they surge the border, border patrol officers get fully occupied simply processing, the people coming across the border. that opens up large gaps of 10s, or sometimes hundreds of miles, where the drug cartels have the ability to get fentanyl across the border,” Abbott said.
Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agent Jesse Moreno explained they are aware of the surge tactics from the Mexican cartel.
“They have used the tactic that we are seeing of them sending large groups of family members and unaccompanied children at one time in order to distract our agents, because they know that our agents are going to have to deploy to that area in order to intake and to take individuals information, write it down, take their belongings and then to basically field to move on from the field to a processing center,” Moreno said.
But, he said they have cameras set up along the border for constant monitoring.
“We have cameras, towers, we have blimps that have cameras with thermal imagery. We try not to leave any area exposed,” Moreno said.
But, the Migration Policy Institute explained pointing the finger at the Biden administration doesn’t paint the whole picture.
“It’s not just US policy that’s driving these increases, it’s what’s going on in migrants’ home countries as well. And that’s as important if not more important in driving people to leave their countries,” Jessica Bolter with the institute explained.
She said leaders need to work on more long-term solutions and systemic change to address the eb and flow of migrants at our border.
“I think that the question is, again, how to fix it, and, and an enforcement-only approach, which is what the Trump administration took, and seemingly, what Governor Abbott what might advocate is not sustainable, and doesn’t provide migrants access to rights that they might be guaranteed under US law,” Bolter said.