Abbott said that while DPS seized 11 pounds of fentanyl in 2020, the agency has seized 95 pounds of fentanyl this year alone, which is enough to cause 21.5 million deadly overdoses. That would be enough to kill the entire population of New York State or almost three-fourths of the population of Texas.
The governor emphasized that the state is not able to prevent fentanyl deaths by itself.
“[L]aw enforcement alone cannot fix this. Families must be part of the solution,” Abbott said. “Young, unsuspecting Texans are buying drugs that are laced with fentanyl. They are buying a death sentence.”
DPS Director Colonel Steve McCraw noted that while fentanyl has previously passed through Texas, we have not had the same problem as other parts of the country, such as the Midwest and Northeastern states.
“Up until now we’ve been a transit state, but clearly[…]now we’re a retail market for it and that concerns us greatly,” McCraw said, adding that there are “consequences when you have an unsecured border.”
Wayborn called the border crisis and fentanyl overdoses a “clear and present danger” to the state, and said that fentanyl has become more accessible as the price has dropped “in just a few months” from $50 per gram to $20 per gram in Tarrant County.
“We’re headed right now for a 50 percent increase in overdoses in Tarrant County alone,” Wayborn said.
Abbott said there were no fentanyl seizures in Tarrant County from 2017 to 2019, but in 2020 law enforcement seized 52 grams and so far this year 137 grams have been seized.
The governor stated he will sign into law Senate Bill (SB) 768, which will specifically criminalize the manufacture or distribution of fentanyl. The offense will be at least a third-degree felony.
Blaming Biden administration policies for the increase in the flow of fentanyl, Abbott said the uptick should be attributed to the cancelation of the border wall project and the “remain in Mexico” policy, as well as the lack of full enforcement of Title 42 immigration rules, which were instituted to protect the public from COVID-19.
Referencing Operation Lone Star, which Abbott launched in March to supplement border enforcement, the governor said Texas has arrested 1,100 criminals and taken into custody 33,000 illegal aliens for referral to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), who is sponsoring the appropriations bill in the Texas House, said from the floor Thursday that Operation Lone Star is expected to cost $1.1 billion over the 2022-2023 biennium.
Abbott also stated his skepticism of Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s call for a special legislative session to complete unfinished conservative priorities. The regular legislative session does not end until Memorial Day, and Abbott contended there is still time to pass legislation.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.