A report released by California Governor Gavin Newsom's office revealed that the amount of fentanyl seized at the state border is enough to kill twice the entire U.S. population.
In 2022, there was a 594% increase in fentanyl seizures compared to 2021. The California National Guard and law enforcement seized 28,765 pounds of the opioid. According to the report:
The opioid crisis has touched every part of California and our nation this year. While we mourn the many lives lost, California is working harder than ever to combat this crisis and protect people from these dangerous drugs to ensure that our communities are kept safe in the first place.
The drug comes from Mexico
The drugs are being transported by people entering the country illegally. The latest numbers released by the Department of Homeland Security revealed that 2,378,944 people crossed the Southwest border this year, more than triple the number than in 2020.
This massive movement of illegal immigrants makes it difficult to monitor drug trafficking. In addition, it is estimated that Mexican cartels use more than 230 subterranean tunnels to ship fentanyl and weapons across the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Combating the fentanyl crisis"
In 2022, Newsom allocated $450 million for the California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) to address the opioid problem and provided for the hiring and training of 166 new California National Guard members, funded with more than $100 million. The governor stated:
California is taking strong action against the fentanyl crisis: increasing seizures, making resources more available to Californians and ensuring communities have what they need to combat the immeasurable harm opioids have caused to our society, our communities and our loved ones.
The report went on to state that the Department of Health Care Services will provide naloxone - a medication used to reverse or reduce the effects of opioids - to institutes of higher education at no cost. Additionally, it allocated another $12 million in grants to schools, nonprofits and other groups addressing opioid use in youth ages 12 to 24.
A study earlier this year by the Centers for Disease Control found a 350% increase in fentanyl-related deaths between 2019 and 2020 in adolescents. Young people are often unaware that they are consuming such a deadly drug, as they purchase the drug in pill form that resembles Xanax, Percocet and OxyContin.