Fentanyl is taking it’s deadly toll on our state and nation. According to a recent press release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 5,091 pounds of fentanyl in Imperial and San Diego Counties during the first 9 months of Fiscal Year 2022. That’s 60 percent of the 8,425 pounds seized in the entire country. Drug precursors are typically manufactured in China, then processed in Mexico and smuggled into the U.S. by cartels across our increasingly wide-open southern border.
According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner, fentanyl related overdose deaths increased 2,375 percent in San Diego County between 2016 and 2021. Overall, opioid deaths took over 6,800 lives in California last year. With fentanyl, it could just be a laced Xanax picked up by a college student wanting to relax or a look-alike prescription drug inadvertently taken by anyone.
I have introduced legislation to increase penalties for those who traffic in these poisons. Unfortunately, the Sacramento majority has not been interested in increasing penalties for drug traffickers, even when serious injury or death is the result. However, I’m pleased to report that I have been appointed to an 11 member, bipartisan select committee that will investigate the deadly fentanyl crisis by focusing on law enforcement, public health, and medical practices for treating opioid and fentanyl addiction.
With fentanyl now being distributed as brightly-colored pills or blocks that look like candy or sidewalk chalk, protecting and informing our kids is more important than ever. Each October, I participate in Red Ribbon Week in our local schools. My office is distributing thousands of certificates to schools throughout the 75th Assembly District to help educate children about the dangers posed by illicit drug use.
Since the Red Ribbon campaign began in the late 1980s, millions of students have benefited from its strong anti-drug message. We must win this fight against drug abuse and drug trafficking. Thousands of lives depend on it.