Biden's border crisis leads to spike in fentanyl trafficking, Governor Abbott responds

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Governor Greg Abbott is connecting the dots between Joe Biden’s border policies and the astounding rise in fentanyl trafficking on the Texas-Mexico border. Since Biden took office in January, there has been a significant increase in fentanyl seizures. On Thursday Abbott announced he is sending additional Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers and National Guard members to the border.

Abbott held a press conference in Fort Worth to address the growing trafficking problem on the southern border. While human trafficking remains a big problem, drug trafficking is flourishing. Drug cartels see the weakness in the system and are exploiting it at record levels. The flow of fentanyl is particularly troubling because the drug is so deadly. In order to combat drug smuggling, the governor has deployed 1,000 additional DPS troopers and National Guard members to the border.

In the first four months of this year, Abbott said at a press conference in Fort Worth, the DPS saw a significant increase in fentanyl seizures compared with 2020. After having no fentanyl seizures in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Abbott said, DPS seized 52 grams in 2020. So far this year, troopers have already seized 137 grams, he said.

Abbott said the increase correlates with President Joe Biden taking office in January and taking steps like pausing border wall construction and ordering a review of the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the “remain in Mexico” policy, which requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their hearings in U.S. immigration courts.

“It is clear that Biden’s open-border policies are unleashing deadly consequences right here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Abbott said.

In March, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star. He deployed DPS and National Guard members to provide air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to high threat areas. This is a move to increase the effort to keep up with the needs at the border.

Biden’s border crisis is costing Texas taxpayers additional money for border security. Additional funds are being included for both human and drug trafficking.

Lawmakers have included an additional $452 million per year for border security efforts in their 2022-23 budget. This adds to the $800 million border security budget, which has remained consistent for the last three legislative sessions.

That includes $6 million per year to combat drug and human trafficking.

State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said the money is intended to help local governments along the border address security issues like drug smuggling and other criminal activity with technology, equipment and personnel.

The bulk of the money, he said, will go to DPS.

“I’m grateful that we’re able to have the funds that are necessary to address criminal activities along the border now,” said Lucio, who is vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

In addition to the deployment of personnel to the border, Abbott is creating a special felony offense to punish those who manufacture and traffic fentanyl.

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.

Border patrol officers say that they are aware of surge tactics used by drug cartels. The cartels send large groups of families and unaccompanied minors all at one time to distract the agents at the border. The intake process is time-consuming and allows for the cartels to take advantage of the distractions. The border is equipped with cameras, towers, and blimps that have cameras with thermal imagery. It is all used to protect the border but some areas are still left exposed.

The Biden administration is more concerned with finding long-term solutions to the conditions in Northern Triangle countries that drive their residents north to the U.S. border. That is a component in the current crisis but it does nothing to deal with the immediate crisis on the border. Simply throwing money at the problem, foreign aid to third world countries, isn’t the whole solution as past administrations have learned. The border crisis we are currently experiencing is the result of the new administration’s policy decisions. Joe Biden campaigned on ending deportations and blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants. Those flooding the U.S.-Mexico border believed him and this is where we are.

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