Our nation is in the midst of an opioid crisis, being exacerbated by illicit fentanyl, coming across the Southwest border in record amounts. This crisis is having a devastating impact on Florida families, claiming thousands of lives every year.
This week, I traveled to the western-most point of our state—Florida’s closest county to the Southwest border—with grim news. A new report shows illicit fentanyl from Mexico continues to ravage our state.
With local law enforcement leaders from the area, we highlighted portions of the report that show the Pensacola Medical Examiners District has the highest per capita death rate for opioid-related deaths in the state, with 42 out of every 100,000 residents overdosing with opioids in their system.
This four-county area, which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties, has double the opioid-related death rate than the state average of 21 per 100,000.
When comparing this data from 2020, we see fentanyl deaths in the region skyrocketed by more than 140%. This is terrifying news, but not shocking given the record amounts of fentanyl crossing the border and moving into Florida through Interstate 10.
Sadly, drugs are not the only threat caused by the border chaos.
Following our announcement, just one county over, news broke about a sting operation targeting child sex exploitation. Nearly 40% of those arrested in the operation in Bay County were in the country illegally.
While Florida law enforcement continues to face these threats head on, my attorneys are fighting in court in an effort to force the federal government to protect the American people and secure the border.
But there is hope, our office has won several of these cases in federal court and law enforcement continues to interdict large amounts of deadly fentanyl before they can kill Floridians.
We will keep fighting to build a Stronger, Safer Florida.