Texas seeing spike in fentanyl trafficking; Abbott blames border issues
Fentanyl, an opioid for pain treatment, is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine
Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday highlighted efforts to stop the trafficking of fentanyl into Texas, as seizures of the powerful opioid have soared in recent months.
The Republican cited President Biden's border policies as a reason behind the state’s fentanyl problem, which he claimed started in 2020 but increased dramatically in the first four months of 2021.
"Well, in addition to the people coming across the border, there is something else crossing the border," Abbott said at a news conference Thursday in Fort Worth. "It is unseen to the general public, but importantly, this unseen thing coming across the border is deadly dangerous."
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Fentanyl, an opioid for pain treatment, is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 36,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, in 2019.
Abbott said that in 2020, the Texas Department of Public Safety seized 11 pounds of fentanyl. In the first four months of 2021, the DPS in Texas seized nearly 95 pounds, which was enough of the drug to administer 21.5 million lethal doses, he noted.
The governor reiterated comments he made last week that authorities at the border in Texas apprehended enough fentanyl to kill every single person in the state of New York.
He added that Tarrant County – the third-most populous county in Texas – was on a path to have a 50% increase in fentanyl deaths this year.
"Lives are at stake as dangerous drugs like fentanyl pour into our communities at an astonishing rate, and we must act now to crack down on this proliferation of this deadly drug," Abbott said. "From Tarrant County to Lubbock County, fentanyl is wreaking havoc in our communities and it is essential for parents, family members, schools, and more to get fully engaged to prevent future fentanyl deaths."
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To combat the growing problem, Abbott announced a new criminal offense for the manufacture or distribution of fentanyl.
"President Biden's open border policies have led to a surge in this deadly drug coming into our communities. We must do more to combat this crisis, which is why I intend to sign legislation that will create a specific felony offense for the manufacturing or delivery of fentanyl," Abbott said.
"The punishment begins as a third-degree felony, which will make this law one of the toughest drug laws in Texas," he continued, according to Border Report.
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The news comes as the Biden administration tackles a surge in migration and other illegal contraband at the border. Critics have blamed the surge on rollback of Trump-era border policies and enforcement, while the Biden administration has blamed the Trump administration and "root causes" in Central America.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.