The record-breaking number of migrants flooding across the southern border continues to cause issues for border states and the nation.

But in addition to these migrants are lethal amounts of drugs.

After Mexican cartels import fentanyl from China, they then distribute the lethal drug into other drugs and substances, including marijuana and cocaine, and prepare to smuggle them into the U.S. A dose of fentanyl as small as a pencil tip can be lethal.

At a high school in central Connecticut earlier this year, a 16-year-old boy nearly died after smoking marijuana laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl. Fortunately, police rushed him to the nurse’s office, where he was given Narcan and survived the near-death experience.

Closer to home, a 19-year-old boy in Leander, Texas, was found dead after ingesting a laced Valium pill in 2021.

Justin Miller, a sergeant in the organized crime unit in Cedar Park, Texas, says counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl are a major driver in the uptick of overdoses.

According to a federal complaint, “Cartels and domestic clandestine pill press operations are manufacturing counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is lethal in minute doses.”

While some of these cases are homegrown, many of the recent fentanyl outbreaks are due to cartel members posing as innocent asylum seekers. Even then, some smugglers force desperate migrants to do the dirty work.

On June 22, at a checkpoint in Salton City, California, Border Patrol arrested two illegal immigrants who were smuggling 4.2 kilograms of fentanyl and 2.1 kilograms of heroin.

“Cross-border trafficking of fentanyl kills thousands of American citizens each year, and I am proud of our Indio Agents for their efforts in countering those who are bringing harmful drugs into the United States”, said Chief Patrol Agent Gregory Bovino.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also reported that in Fiscal Year 2021, they had seen a 1,066 percent increase in fentanyl and a 98 percent increase in cocaine being seized at the border. At eight South Texas ports, they recorded seizing 580 pounds of fentanyl.

Since last March, the Texas Department of Public Safety has seized more than 300 million lethal doses of fentanyl and made nearly 14,000 criminal arrests.

At a port in El Paso, Texas, border officers discovered $339,000 worth of fentanyl in a vehicle arriving from Mexico.

With all of these drugs being seized, overdoses—especially those involving fentanyl—are killing thousands of Americans every year. The National Institutes of Health reported 68,630 American deaths due to synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, in 2020—a huge increase from 46,802 deaths in 2018.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of overdoses rose from 4.57 per 100,000 adolescents in 2020 to 31.06 per 100,000 in 2021.

While most are fixated on the number of migrants coming through our borders, border agents also need to focus on the drugs moving through our southern border.

“We’ve seen enough fentanyl enter this country that could kill every American five times. We have a drug crisis on our hands as well,” said U.S. congressional candidate Wesley Hunt in a Fox News interview this week. “If our job at the federal government is to keep our citizens safe, we are certainly failing our citizens. We’re failing Texans.”

Emily Wilkerson

Emily is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, studying journalism with a minor in political science. She enjoys investigative journalism and making sure that every side of a story is being told.

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