Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has directed state agency heads to “research ways to improve all aspects of the state’s response to the fentanyl crisis,” including preparing public service announcements, putting out fliers in prominent locations near regulated facilities, the training of personnel or the provision of educational opportunities.
They were also instructed to prepare ahead of the 2023 legislative session to “outline legislative changes, budget priorities, and other initiatives that will improve the state’s ability to ban this dangerous drug, provide emergency overdose treatment, and expand drug abuse treatment programs.” and to coordinate their efforts with the Texas Opioid Abatement Fund Council.
In a letter to agency officials, Abbott wrote: “It has become clear that fentanyl affects individuals with and without substance use disorders. Unfortunately, most people who die from fentanyl probably didn’t know they were taking the deadly drug. Many of those poisoned were unknowingly ingesting deadly counterfeits that appeared to be prescription drugs purchased outside of the healthcare system.”
His letter comes after 18 attorneys general urged President Joe Biden to designate illegal fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction. Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff Rand Henderson has also called for it to be labeled as a weapon of mass destruction, and Tulare County, California Sheriff Mike Boudreaux argues that fentanyl pills “crossing our southern border is absolutely one of the biggest problems people face.” we are facing as a country.”
Two milligrams of the synthetic opioid, the weight of a mosquito, is deadly. A teaspoon contains about 5,000 milligrams, enough to kill 2,500 people. A pound of fentanyl, or 453,592 milligrams, could kill 226,796 people.
In 2021, Texas reported an 89 percent increase in fentanyl-related deaths compared to 2020.
Fentanyl is the leading cause of death in US adults between the ages of 18 and 45. In 2020, 77 percent of all teenage overdose deaths were due to fentanyl, according to a study published by JAMA.
Most fentanyl-laced drugs in the US are made by cartel agents in Mexico and made to look like legitimate prescription drugs. Easier and cheaper to produce than other illicit drugs, they can easily be carried in backpacks or hidden in cargo being shipped across borders. More recently, “rainbow fentanyl” pills that look like candy are flooding the market and are deliberately marketed to children.
“Put simply, fentanyl is a silent killer, and Texans are falling prey to the cartels that produce it,” Abbott said. “Because of the threats posed by an open border and in the absence of government action,” he launched Texas’ border security mission, Operation Lone Star, last March. Since then, Texas Department of Public Safety officials have seized more than 336 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman and child in the United States
In July alone, US Customs and Border Protection seized 2,100 pounds of illegal fentanyl. In fiscal 2021, CBP agents seized 11,200 pounds of fentanyl. So far they have seized £10,600 in FY2022.
In both fiscal years to date, CBP agents have seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly 5 billion people.
According to Worldometer, the world population is currently 7.9 billion people.
While law enforcement officials’ efforts are “remarkable and commendable,” Abbott argues that they “alone cannot expect to end this crisis.”
By Bethany Blankley