Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order Wednesday designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorists in his state.
Abbott announced the executive order during a roundtable in Midland on border security alongside several members of law enforcement.
The Republican governor railed against the dangers of fentanyl being covertly produced by Mexican drug cartels. The drug has claimed thousands of lives nationwide and in the Lone Star State.
“Fentanyl is a clandestine killer, and Texans are falling victim to the Mexican cartels that are producing it,” Abbott said. “Cartels are terrorists, and it’s time we treated them that way. In fact, more Americans died from fentanyl poisoning in the past year than all terrorist attacks across the globe in the past 100 years. In order to save our country, particularly our next generation, we must do more to get fentanyl off our streets.”
The executive order comes one day after Gov. Abbott sent a letter to state agency leaders ordering them to take immediate action “to keep Texans safe amid the growing national fentanyl crisis.”
The letter instructs the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to identify gangs that are supporting Mexican cartels and work to seize assets to disrupt cartel networks that may be operating in Texas communities.
Gov. Abbott wrote in the letter that cartels terrorize the U.S. daily, with their weapon of choice being fentanyl which “pours across the southern border.”
The letter also directs state agencies to coordinate efforts to raise awareness of fentanyl’s lethality and prevalence.
“I’ve also directed Texas agencies to alert the public about the fentanyl crisis, including schools and workplaces through mediums like social media and public service announcements to make clear, that truly one pill can kill,” Abbott said.
Gov. Abbott also sent a letter Wednesday to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The letter demands that they classify the Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and other cartels Gov. Abbott said are producing and distributing deadly fentanyl as terrorist organizations.
“Fentanyl is a scourge that is killing thousands of Americans. Drug cartels are the major suppliers of this substance. And the problem is a national emergency,” Abbott wrote in the letter to Biden and Harris.
The governor was joined at the roundtable by DPS Director Steve McCraw, DPS Regional Director West Texas Region Jose Sanchez, Midland County Judge Terry Johnson, Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis, Midland County Sheriff Chief Deputy Benny Matlock, Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke, Midland Police Chief Seth Herman, and Midland Memorial Hospital District Police Chief Steve McNeill.
Wednesday’s executive order is the latest in a series of actions Gov. Abbott has taken to address the fentanyl crisis. Last month, Abbott announced new initiatives state leaders would undertake to combat the opioid crisis as nearly 1,700 deaths involving fentanyl were reported in the state in 2021, an 89% increase from 2020.