Jun 26, 2024

State Task Force helps seize nearly 7 million fentanyl pills and 3,725 pounds of fentanyl powder in 5 months

What you need to know: Since January, the state has helped seize nearly 7 million pills containing fentanyl and 3,725 pounds of fentanyl powder across California, including at ports of entry along the southern border.

SACRAMENTO — Ramping up efforts to continue tackling illicit fentanyl in the state, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the seizure of an estimated nearly 7 million pills containing fentanyl statewide, including at ports of entry along the southern border, since January 2024. 

Through the California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, which helps local and federal partners take deadly fentanyl off the streets, partners seized 1,170,893 pills containing fentanyl and 986 pounds of fentanyl powder in May alone.

California’s robust partnerships to tackle illegal fentanyl are leading to significant results time and time again. We will continue to take fentanyl out of our neighborhoods, hold drug traffickers accountable, and expand access to life-saving medicine to benefit all Californians.

Governor Gavin Newsom

A graphic with a blue background and orange and white lettering that says: "Nearly 7 million fentanyl pills + 3,725 pounds of fentanyl powder seized. From January to May 2024, the state's Counterdrug Task Force has helped law enforcement agencies take deadly fentanyl off the streets."

 

“The California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force continues to play an important role in the fight against fentanyl,” said CalGuard Major General Matthew Beevers. “We are proud to be a part of this effort and will continue to provide critical resources to our local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement partners.”

Specifically, the Task Force 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. CalGuard members with the Counterdrug Task Force are embedded in cross-government initiatives to combat transnational criminal organizations and the trafficking of illegal narcotics – like fentanyl. 

Recently, Governor Newsom more than doubled the deployment of CalGuard servicemembers to crack down on fentanyl smuggling. In May, the state announced the taskforce’s work to seize more than 5.8 million fentanyl pills since January.

The state also 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. 

As part of Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis, over-the-counter CalRx®-branded naloxone is now becoming available across the state. Through the Naloxone Distribution Project (NDP), CalRx®-branded over-the-counter (OTC) naloxone HCL nasal spray, 4 mg, will be available for free to eligible organizations through the state or for sale for $24 per twin-pack through Amneal.

How we got here

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. Fentanyl is primarily smuggled into the country by U.S. citizens.

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.

Recently, the federal government announced sanctions against traffickers bringing in fentanyl and other drugs into the United States. The U.S. Treasury Department leverages its expertise to fight illicit financing and financial crimes to disrupt the flows of money that criminal organizations rely on to operate.