By RIA ROEBUCK
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Fentanyl seized at the border was sufficient to kill twice the population of North America.
A report released on Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office revealed that the amount of fentanyl pouring over the California border has reached catastrophic proportions. There was enough of the drug reaching the state in 2022 to kill every man, woman and child in North America — twice.
This past year saw a 594% increase in fentanyl seizures compared to 2021. The California National Guard and law enforcement seized 28,765 pounds of fentanyl. A lethal dose of fentanyl can fit inside the square of a keypad letter on an iPhone.
Drugs are carried by people entering the United States, often illegally. The latest number of illegal border crossings released by the Department of Homeland Security reveal that there were 2,378,944 people coming across the southwest border this year, more than triple the amount from 2020.
Since President Joe Biden took office, the number of illegal crossings have steadily increased. In January 2022, there were approximately 155,000 illegal crossings, but by March that number exceeded 200,000 per month and remained at that average for the rest of the year, with single adults being the largest percentage, more than double that of family units.
It is this mass movement of humanity surging into California and other border states that make it difficult to thoroughly monitor the movements of the fentanyl drug, which is the No. 1 killer of America’s youth.
A study earlier this year by the Center for Disease Control found a 350% increase in fentanyl-related deaths between 2019 and 2020 in teenagers. Teens are often unaware that they are consuming a fatal drug as pills are made to look like Xanax, Percocet and OxyContin, popular prescription drugs.
Drug cartels use more than 230 underground tunnels to traffic fentanyl and weapons between the U.S.-Mexican border. Customs and Border Protection is stretched to the limit with processing illegal crossings.
“The opioid crisis has touched every part of California, and our nation, this year. As we mourn the many lives lost, California is working harder than ever to fight this crisis and protect people from these dangerous drugs to ensure our communities are kept safe in the first place,” said Gov. Newsom in the report.
Gov. Newsom allocated $450 million for CalHHS to address the opioid issue in 2022, and provided for the training and hiring of 166 new members of the California National Guard, funded from the more than $100 million the state received as part of the $26 billion national opioid settlement with multiple major pharmaceutical companies.
Gov. Newsom will also use part of the settlement “to combat the fentanyl crisis and support federal, state and local law enforcement counter-narcotic investigations and operations.”
The report went on to state that the Department of Health Care Services will provide naloxone to institutes of higher education at no cost through the Naloxone Distribution Project and allocated $12 million in grants to schools, nonprofits and other groups addressing opioid use among ages 12- to 24-years old.
Gov. Newsom said, “California is cracking down on the fentanyl crisis – increasing seizures, making resources more available to Californians and ensuring communities have what they need to combat the immeasurable harm opioids have caused our society, our communities and our loved ones.”