AUSTIN - Governor Greg Abbott today held a roundtable in Fort Worth on the national fentanyl crisis alongside law enforcement and families who have been affected by fentanyl. During the roundtable, the Governor listened to the stories of families who have endured the pain of losing a loved one to fentanyl overdose as discussed the ways state and local law enforcement are working to stop this deadly drug from entering our communities from across the border.
"Because of President Biden's open border policies, deadly drugs like fentanyl are flooding our streets and killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people," said Governor Abbott. "But this crisis isn't unique to Texas—it's a crisis plaguing our entire country. Communities from coast to coast are mired in this tragedy and we must take action. The families joining me today are helping us put a face to the stark statistics surrounding the fentanyl crisis, and I am grateful to them for sharing their stories to shed light on this horrific tragedy. The State of Texas is committed to working with them and our law enforcement partners to address this crisis and stop the flow of drugs coming into our country in the wake of the Biden Administration's continued inaction."
The Governor and roundtable attendees discussed the heartbreaking statistics surrounding the fentanyl crisis. In 2021 alone, there were over 1,334 fentanyl-related deaths in Texas.
Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics documented an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during a 12-month period that ended in April 2021—a significant increase of 28.5% from the same period the year prior. The new data also shows that estimated overdose deaths from opioids, including synthetics like fentanyl, increased to 75,673 in the same 12-month period, up from 56,064 the year before. The discussion also included a conversation about the influx of counterfeit pills and contaminated drugs in communities that are causing many individuals to unknowingly ingest fentanyl, leading to a rise in poisoning and overdoses.
Governor Abbott has taken significant action to address the fentanyl crisis in Texas. Under Operation Lone Star, which launched in March 2021, over 232 million deadly doses of fentanyl have been seized coming across the border. Governor Abbott also signed new legislation last year that enhances criminal penalties for manufacturing and distributing fentanyl in Texas.
The Governor was joined at the roundtable by the following individuals:
Stephanie Hellstern of North Texas who lost her son, Kyle, to fentanyl poisoning
Virginia Kreiger, President of the Fentanyl Awareness Coalition, who lost her daughter Tiffany to a fentanyl poisoning
Julie and Jack Vincent, who lost their grandson, Kaden, to fentanyl poisoning
Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Mathis, Texas Department of Public Safety Deputy Director for Law Enforcement Operations
Sheriff Bill Waybourn, Tarrant County Sheriff's Office
Chief Deputy Calvin Bond, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office – Combined Narcotics Enforcement Team
Chief Deputy Jennifer Gabbert, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office
Chief Deputy David Grantham, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office – Intelligence
Sheriff Jim Skinner, Collin County Sheriff's Office
Chief Neil Noakes, Fort Worth Police Department
Assistant Chief Joseph Sparrow, Fort Worth Police Department