Tennessee governor sending National Guardsmen to combat drug trafficking at Mexico border

Gov. Bill Lee will deploy Tennessee National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border in early 2022.

The state will send 50 guardsmen to support the Texas National Guard and “address drug trafficking,” Lee said in a news release. 

The release cites U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics, which show agents have seized 190,000 pounds of methamphetamine and 11,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border over the last year. 

The same chart also shows pounds of drugs seized dropped by 24.6% last year, mainly due to a drop in marijuana seizures at the border. 

Tennessee has seen a recent spike in overdose deaths tied to fentanyl. Overdose deaths increased between 2019 and 2020 from 2,089 to 3,032, or by 45%. Fentanyl was involved in two-thirds of those overdoses in 2020, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. 

Experts say fentanyl is extremely hard to seize during transportation because it’s moved in relatively small amounts compared to traditional drugs, like heroin or meth. 

Traditionally drugs are measured in gram or milligram dosages; dealers count fentanyl in micrograms, which is one-thousandth the size. 

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