California governor Gavin Newsom said he spoke with President Xi
California Governor Gavin Newsom has more than doubled the number of National Guard troops. AFP

California Governor Gavin Newsom has more than doubled the number of National Guard troops along his state's southern border with Mexico in efforts to crack down on "deadly drugs," he announced in a news release Thursday.

The governor's office said that California's National Guard County Drug Task Force operations have been boosted from 155 service members to nearly 400, as state and federal officials grapple with a spike in border encounters in recent years.

"Cracking down on illicit drugs and those who smuggle them into California," was the main goal of the move, according to the official document.

"Our top priority is the safety of our communities statewide. By working with state, local, and federal partners to take down transnational organizations and the illegal drugs they attempt to bring into our state, the state's Counter Drug Taskforce is making a profound difference to hold smugglers accountable and take deadly drugs off our streets," Newsom said.

According to Newsom's office, California Guard operations supported the seizure of 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl from the beginning of the year through May. In 2023, the governor said, security forces confiscated 62,224 pounds of fentanyl in 2023 - a 1066% increase since 2021.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl contribute to nearly 70% of overdose deaths in the United States, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The official release highlights that, "A majority of fentanyl is smuggled into the U.S. at ports of entry by U.S. citizens, not by migrants seeking asylum, according to the Department of Homeland Security."

This decision of doubling the troops comes after recent reports showing a decrease in illegal crossings at the Texas-Mexico border, an influx that could have moved to states seen as less strict as Arizona or California.

Facial recognition for migrants without passports boarding domestic flights
Biden's new executive order bars migrants from seeking asylum at the border once a certain threshold is reached. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP

With the migrant crisis at the forefront of this election cycle, President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order that essentially bars migrants from seeking asylum at southern U.S. ports of entry once a certain threshold is reached and deports them to Mexico or their home countries.

Governor Newsom's news release highlights that California recently launched, a one-stop tool for Californians seeking resources for prevention and treatment, as well as information on how California is working to hold Big Pharma and drug-traffickers accountable in this crisis.

The state is now set to purchase life-saving naloxone for approximately half of the current market price, "saving more lives with this drug and maximizing taxpayer dollars," the document adds.

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