Jun 13, 2024

Governor Newsom more than doubles deployment of California National Guard to crack down on fentanyl smuggling

What you need to know: Nearly 400 California National Guard service members are being deployed statewide and at ports of entry along the border to prevent illegal drugs – like fentanyl – from coming into our communities.

SAN YSIDRO – Cracking down on illicit drugs and those who smuggle them into California, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced he is more than doubling the California National Guard’s (Cal Guard) Counter Drug Taskforce operations statewide, including at ports of entry along the border from 155 to now nearly 400 service members. 

Embedded in cross-government initiatives to combat transnational criminal organizations and the trafficking of illegal narcotics – like fentanyl – these CalGuard members with the Counter Drug Taskforce have been hired, trained, and placed at key locations statewide.

A graphic with a blue background and orange and white lettering that says: "Doubling fentanyl fighting efforts, 392 CalGuard Soldiers Now Deployed Statewide and at ports of entry along the border"

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.

Governor Gavin Newsom

During a recent visit to the border, Governor Newsom was able to see firsthand the significant progress the Taskforce has made. 

An image of Governor Gavin Newsom standing near the U.S./Mexico border with a play button symbol


“Beginning in 2022, the CalGuard’s Counter Drug Taskforce deployed 30 servicemembers to the San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, Tecate, and Calexico Ports of Entry to support our federal partners,” said CalGuard Major General Matthew Beevers. “Due to significant initial success, in 2023, we doubled our force across those Ports of Entry. Under Governor Newsom’s leadership and broad Congressional support, our Counter Drug Taskforce has grown from 155 full-time servicemembers to 392 today.”

Specifically, the Taskforce focuses on gathering information to interdict illegal narcotics trafficking, utilizing air and ground assets to build criminal investigations, and supporting personnel at border ports of entry to stop illegal narcotics trafficking. 

How we got here

Last month, the Governor announced CalGuard operations supported the  seizure of 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl this year alone. Last year, the Governor increased the number of CalGuard service members deployed to interdict drugs at U.S. ports of entry along the border by approximately 50%. The operations CalGuard supported resulted in the record seizure of 62,224 pounds of fentanyl in 2023 — a 1066% increase since 2021. CalGuard’s coordinated drug interdiction efforts in the state are funded in part by California’s $30 million investment to expand CalGuard’s work to prevent drug trafficking by transnational criminal organizations and support from the Biden-Harris Administration to address humanitarian and security efforts. 

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.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl contribute to nearly 70% of overdose deaths. Governor Newsom recently launched opioids.ca.gov, 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 Governor’s Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis provides a comprehensive framework to address the opioid and fentanyl crisis, including through aggressive steps to support overdose prevention efforts, hold the opioid pharmaceutical industry accountable, crack down on drug trafficking, and raise awareness about the dangers of opioids, including fentanyl. 

In support of President Biden’s bilateral cooperation agreement with China on counternarcotics, the Governor spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping in October about combating the transnational shipping of precursor chemicals used to create fentanyl.