Newsom places more California National Guard troops at border to combat tide of smuggled drugs — mainly fentanyl — from Mexico
Gov. Gavin Newsom is cranking up the number of California National Guard members stationed along the border to stem a troubling tide of smuggled drugs — particularly fentanyl — from Mexico.
On Thursday, Newsom announced the number of CalGuard members stationed at ports of entry would jump about 50% — from 40 to 60.
“Fentanyl is a deadly poison ripping families and communities apart,” Newsom said in a statement.
“California is cracking down — and today we’re going further by deploying more CalGuard soldiers to combat this crisis and keep our communities safe.”
The added CalGuard members will also help US Customs and Border Patrol agents with X-rays and secondary inspections of vehicles crossing the border, according to Newsom’s statement.
Newsom previously expanded CalGuard operations — triggering a whopping 594% increase in seized fentanyl in the state.
Officials believe about 65% of the narcotics supply in the US enters the country over the California border, according to Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers of the California Military Department, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At a Wednesday news conference, Beevers hailed CalGuard for having “some extraordinary successful operations in this last year.”
In 2022, 28,765 pounds of fentanyl was seized by law enforcement in California; as of July 1, CalGuard has helped seize over 11,760 pounds of fentanyl this year.
The anti-narcotics program gets $26 million from the federal government and $15 million from the state budget — a massive $41 million tally that’s put toward the drug crisis.
“We recognize this as a unique challenge to California, and I think the governor’s additional $15 million really speaks to getting after that,” Beevers said.
The CalGuard staffing increase is set to begin Thursday.
The Golden State has long been impacted by the smuggling of narcotics over the border from Mexico.
Particularly, areas in northern California have sustained an increased flow of illicit drugs in recent years — including in cities like Oakland and San Francisco, where open-air drug markets and narcotic tourism have left the area “unlivable” for many.
San Francisco has also seen a “tidal wave” of deadly overdoses in recent months, with the latest data showing fentanyl caused 62 out of 71 total OD deaths the past month. The latest figures emerged on the same day a report concluded “City Hall is failing” its citizens there.
The overdose figures have put San Francisco on course to break a 2020 record of 712 deaths due to ODs.