Texas Gov. Greg Abbott penned a letter to state agency leaders directing them to “ramp up” their effort to tackle the state’s fentanyl crisis while taking aim at the Biden administration’s border policies.
“Fentanyl’s potency and deceptiveness, combined with the federal government’s unwillingness to take border security seriously, pose a grave threat to Texans,” Abbott said in the letter. “We must take all appropriate actions to inform Texans of this danger and prevent additional deaths. Together we can help bring awareness to the threat posed by fentanyl and do our part to address this crisis.”
The Republican governor noted that Texas has seen an 89% increase in fentanyl-related deaths, pointing to provisional data that indicated the state suffered 1,672 such deaths in 2021 compared to 883 in 2020 and 214 in 2018.
Abbott said the crisis is “impacting individuals with and without substance use disorders,” noting that many of the drugs packaged by Mexican drug cartels are sold as legitimate prescription medications after being smuggled across the border. The governor also noted the emergence of “rainbow fentanyl,” brightly colored pills that could be mistaken for candy.
“Due to the threats posed by an open border and in the absence of federal action, I initiated Operation Lone Star on March 4, 2021,” Abbott wrote. “Since that time, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has seized more than 336 million lethal doses of fentanyl across the state. That is enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States. The efforts of DPS are noteworthy and commendable, but law enforcement alone cannot be expected to end this crisis.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, seizures of fentanyl at the southern border have spiked nearly 200% this year compared with 2021. Officers seized 2,100 pounds of the drug in July alone, the largest amount seized in at least four years.
But large amounts of the potentially fatal drug are still making their way into the country, something Abbott said requires attention from the state.
“Fentanyl’s potency and deceptiveness, combined with the federal government’s unwillingness to take border security seriously, pose a grave threat to Texans,” Abbott wrote. “We must take all appropriate actions to inform Texans of this danger and prevent additional deaths. To this end, I am directing each of your agencies to inform the populations you serve of fentanyl’s lethality and prevalence.”