The California National Guard is doubling the number of its troops deployed statewide to combat the spread of illegal drugs, including at ports of entry along the southern border, according to a recent announcement from the state governor’s office.

The Guard’s counter-drug task force is increasing from 155 troops to nearly 400 service members, said the June 13 release.

“Our top priority is the safety of our communities statewide,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in the statement. “By working with state, local, and federal partners to take down transnational organizations and the illegal drugs they attempt to bring into our state, the state’s Counter Drug Taskforce is making a profound difference to hold smugglers accountable and take deadly drugs off our streets.”

The announcement comes as other states’ National Guard troops take part in southern border missions. This California Guard mission focuses on preventing the trafficking of illegal drugs, particularly fentanyl, according to the press release and the Guard’s website.

Last month, the governor’s office announced that over the first four months of the year, the California Guard’s operations supported the seizure of 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl — a synthetic opioid that has devastated communities across the country. Last year, California National Guard-supported operations resulted in the seizure of more than 62,000 pounds of the narcotic.

A government watchdog report from April found that the Department of Defense needs to improve its coordination and assessment of its counter-narcotic activities.

In 2022, the task force deployed 30 National Guard troops to ports of entry across the state, from San Ysidro to Calexico. In the ensuing years, those numbers have grown to around 392 service members aiding the initiative, Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, the adjutant general for the California National Guard, said in the press release.

Newsom called on Speaker of the House Mike Johnson in a social media post to provide more resources to support U.S. forces working along the southern border.

The California National Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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