Today Governor Kevin Stitt and eight other governors received a law enforcement briefing from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd regarding the southern border crisis which has impacted the use, trafficking, and distribution of illicit drugs in Oklahoma. Following the briefing Governor Stitt toured the US-Mexico border by boat on the Rio Grande.
“The crisis that President Biden created at our southern border is unbelievable. In the last year alone, a record of over one million individuals have been arrested or apprehended attempting to cross into the United States illegally,” said Governor Stitt.
“This border crisis affects our entire nation. In Oklahoma, we have seen an increase in the trafficking of illicit drugs, namely methamphetamine and fentanyl, which are being smuggled across our southern border from Mexico. Most methamphetamine available in our state is produced in Mexico and fentanyl-related deaths are up over 150% over the last year. This is a serious security issue directly impacting Oklahomans.”
Oklahoma law enforcement continue to seize record amounts of illicit drugs that are tied to Mexico drug trafficking organizations (DTO). Due to Oklahoma’s strategic centric location, since the 1990s, some of the most powerful DTOs operating in Mexico have established distribution channels in the state. There are 935 miles of interstate highways in Oklahoma, including Interstate 40 which extends across the country from Barstow, California to Wilmington, North Carolina. This extensive interstate highway system is attractive to drug traffickers and creates a unique challenge to law enforcement in Oklahoma.
Methamphetamine, which is smuggled across the Southwest border, is the greatest drug threat to Oklahoma. Most of the methamphetamine available in Oklahoma is produced in Mexico. It is often imported from Sinaloa, Mexico and then repackaged in Arizona, California or Texas. In February 2020, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) Highway Interdiction Unit seized 116 pounds of methamphetamine during an interdiction stop in Yukon. In April 2020, interdiction agents seized 53 pounds of methamphetamine during a traffic stop near El Reno. In May 2021, agents seized 60 pounds of methamphetamine during a search warrant in Oklahoma City.
The main opioid-related threat in Oklahoma is counterfeit prescription pills. The number of counterfeit oxycodone M30 tablets laced with fentanyl has dramatically increased over the past year. Often referred to as “Mexican oxys,” the counterfeit pills are produced in Mexico and then smuggled across the Southwest border. To date, OBN has seized approximately 80,000 counterfeit oxycodone tablets. The number of fentanyl-related fatal overdoses has increased over 150% from 2019 – 2020.
Also attending the briefing were Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, as well as officials from the Texas Military Department and the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Today’s law enforcement briefing and border tour is a part of Governor Stitt’s visit to the southern border. On September 20, 2021, 26 Republican governors, including Stitt, sent a letter to President Biden requesting a meeting with the White House within 15 days which tolled on October 5, 2021, to discuss the situation at the border and its impacts on surrounding states. The White House has given no acknowledgment of receipt or response to the letter. The governors’ visit is a direct reaction to President Biden’s lack of response.