Fentanyl, border issues answers wanted from federal agencies



(The Center Square) – Two weeks ago in North Carolina, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office seized 5 pounds of fentanyl, or more than 1.1 million lethal doses, in the biggest bust in county history.

The Raleigh Police Department at the end of August tallied more than 37 pounds of fentanyl seized in 2023, enough to kill 8.5 million people, along with 48 overdose deaths and 800 overdose calls.

Startling statistics of the fentanyl crisis continue to spread across the state and has prompted U.S. Sens. Ted Budd and Thom Tillis, each R-N.C., to demand answers from the Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Agency about the flow of the deadly drug and others from the southern border.

This week, Budd and Tillis penned a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram on the problem “being driven by various factors including the open border, drug cartels using social media apps to sell drugs, and the Chinese Communist Party’s failure to stop fentanyl precursors from being shipped to drug cartels.”

“Broken border policies are driving cartels to engulf our country with drugs,” the senators wrote. “During fiscal year 2023, over 25,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the southern border alone. This number does not include the fentanyl (that) evaded detection and made it into communities across North Carolina and the nation.”

At the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, three students and one young alumni have died of fentanyl overdoses in the last 20 months, officials said in September.

In 2022, 4,000 North Carolinians lost their lives to drug overdoses, and 77% were from fentanyl. The total overdoses from 2000 to 2022: 36,000, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The letter highlights the increasing use of xylazine, known as “tranq,” mixed with fentanyl and other opioids that the UNC Street Drug Lab has now detected in more than 20 North Carolina counties.

“Our nation is being poisoned by fentanyl and other deadly narcotics that are pouring in from our open border. Families from all demographics are being impacted and losing loved ones daily,” Tillis and Budd wrote.

“As of April, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the United States had over 106,000 overdose deaths, which included fentanyl-related deaths during a 12-month period,” the letter read.

Tillis and Budd want answers by Nov. 24. Specifics are how the agencies are working with state and local officials to dismantle drug networks; resources needed to address the crisis in North Carolina; efforts to counter activities on social media; and actions to combat smuggling at the southern border and the pipeline of chemicals used to make the drugs from China.

“We urge the DHS and DEA to use all the tools at your disposal to dismantle the drug cartels and halt the incursion of drugs flowing into our country,” they wrote.



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