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California confiscated sufficient fentanyl last year to cause mass casualties

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California seized a staggering 62,000 pounds of fentanyl last year, enough to potentially kill the global population nearly twice over, according to Governor Gavin Newsom’s office. This significant amount of the potent synthetic opioid was confiscated by authorities in 2023, highlighting the ongoing battle against drug trafficking and substance abuse in the state.

Throughout the year, the California National Guard, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, conducted extensive counter-drug operations across the state. The efforts led to the record-breaking seizure of fentanyl at ports of entry, marking a significant increase from previous years. The exact means of smuggling and the form in which the fentanyl was shipped remain unclear.

Comparing the seizure statistics from recent years reveals a dramatic surge in the amount of fentanyl intercepted by authorities. In 2021, California seized over 5,300 pounds of the drug, valued at $64 million. By 2022, the amount had risen to 28,000 pounds, with a street value of $230 million. This upward trend culminated in the confiscation of a total of 62,000 pounds of fentanyl in 2023, estimated to be worth approximately $670 million.

The precise reasons behind the substantial increase in seized fentanyl are still under investigation. It remains uncertain whether the surge can be attributed to enhanced law enforcement efforts or if drug traffickers escalated their smuggling activities. Regardless, California has intensified its crackdown on the illicit drug trade.

Newsom emphasized the dangers of fentanyl, labeling it as a poison that has no place in communities. The state’s comprehensive approach involves not only increasing drug seizures but also expanding access to substance abuse treatment and holding drug traffickers accountable for the harm caused by opioids.

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The California National Guard’s role in counter-drug operations has expanded significantly over the past year. More service members have been deployed along the border and in urban areas to support law enforcement agencies in combating high-intensity drug trafficking. The heightened vigilance aims to curb the influx of deadly substances like fentanyl into the state.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) underscores the lethal potency of fentanyl, noting that just 2 milligrams of the substance can be fatal. In 2022, over 110,000 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to drug poisonings, with approximately 70% linked to fentanyl. The DEA characterizes the current situation as an unprecedented drug poisoning epidemic gripping the nation.

In response to the alarming trend, federal authorities have been actively targeting the production and distribution of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills. The DEA reported seizing nearly 80 million fake pills and close to 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder in 2023, as part of ongoing efforts to stem the tide of illicit drug sales. The prevalence of fake pills containing fentanyl highlights the need for heightened vigilance and enforcement actions.

In Los Angeles County, fentanyl has emerged as the leading cause of overdose deaths, surpassing methamphetamine in 2022. The opioid was implicated in approximately 60% of accidental drug or alcohol-related deaths, with disproportionate impacts on the Black community in Los Angeles. The troubling statistics underscore the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address the opioid crisis at both local and national levels.

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Two individuals sought for causing damage to popular rock formations at Lake Mead

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Las Vegas — Federal authorities are seeking the help of the public in identifying two men responsible for damaging rock formations at a national recreation site in Nevada.Officials at Lake Mead National Recreation Area announced on social media that the incident occurred over a recent weekend near the Redstone Dune Trail on the north side of the lake. The petrified red dunes in this area are a popular hiking destination within the park.A video shared by CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS-TV, which has since gone viral, shows two men pushing chunks of sandstone off an outcropping while a girl can be heard screaming. Park officials have condemned this behavior as appalling, emphasizing that the damage caused is irreversible.


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An image from a video recorded on the evening of April 7 shows two men vandalizing popular rock formations.
National Park Service / Facebook

“It’s one of my favorite places in the park, and they’re up there just destroying it. I don’t understand that,” said John Haynes, public information officer at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in an interview with television station KVVU.

Haynes also emphasized that destruction of this nature at federally protected sites can lead to felony charges, resulting in potential fines and jail time. Spanning 2,344 square miles of mountains and desert canyons, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a popular destination just outside Las Vegas, attracting around 6 million visitors annually. Due to staffing levels, park officials often rely on the public to help monitor resources within the park boundaries.

Visitors are urged to use their cellphones to capture videos or photos of any suspicious activity, provided it is safe to do so, and to gather any information, such as license plate numbers, that could aid in identifying the offenders. The National Park Service operates a tip line that receives numerous submissions each year. The tip line number is 888-653-0009, and an online reporting option is also available.

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“It’s crucial to inform us of any such incidents,” Haynes added.

Over the past decade, there have been several cases of vandalism on federal land across the Western United States, with visitors defacing petroglyphs, toppling rock formations, and damaging centuries-old rock art.

 

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