Fentanyl overdoses have now overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of death among teenagers in an Arizona border county – as Governor Doug Ducey blames President Joe Biden’s neglect of the U.S. border for the rise in lethal drugs coming into the country.
The Republican governor slammed Biden this week for fueling an “opioid epidemic in America” amid his handling of the border crisis that has seen a historic number of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S.
“It’s not just the people crossing the border, it’s the lethal drugs,” Ducey said at a press conference with other governors in Mission, Texas on Wednesday.
“Almost 2,000 pounds of fentanyl and over 13,000 pounds of methamphetamine have been seized in Arizona sectors alone this year.”
He added: “Just think about how many drugs are slipping through the cracks and slipping into the bloodstreams in our communities. This isn’t a figure of speech, this is our reality.”
Ducey said more teenagers in Pima County, which includes the city of Tucson, are now dying from overdosing on fentanyl than car crashes, suicide or COVID-19.
“Fentanyl overdoses have replaced car accidents as the leading cause of death for people 19 and younger in Pima County — one of our border communities,” Ducey said.
“Pima County deputy sheriffs are responding to a call involving fentanyl every 40 hours.”
In Pima County, 140 people died of fentanyl overdoses in the first six months of this year, according to local health department data.
Sixteen of those deaths were in those aged under 19, while 30 were between 20-29 years.
Biden has faced mounting criticism over his handling of the border crisis in recent months.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned last week that Biden’s inability to secure the southern border would lead to young Americans dying as drug cartels take advantage of the nation’s vulnerability.
It comes after the Drug Enforcement Administration revealed last week that nearly 2 million fentanyl-laced fake pills had been seized following a two-month nationwide crackdown that lead to 810 arrests.
The fake pills containing fentanyl could have potentially killed more than 700,000 people, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said.
Drug networks in Mexico are producing the fake pills on a massive scale before distributing them across the US, according to the DEA.