Governor Abbott today sent a letter to state agency leaders directing them to ramp up state efforts to combat the deadly fentanyl crisis impacting communities across Texas and the nation. With an 89% increase in fentanyl-related deaths reported in Texas in 2021 compared to 2020, the deadly synthetic opioid is endangering Texans of all ages. This deadly drug is being trafficked into Texas by Mexican cartels, which are disguising the pills to look like legitimate prescription drugs and even candy to target children.
“Fentanyl’s potency and deceptiveness, combined with the federal government’s unwillingness to take border security seriously, pose a grave threat to Texans,” reads the letter. “We must take all appropriate actions to inform Texans of this danger and prevent additional deaths. Together we can help bring awareness to the threat posed by fentanyl and do our part to address this crisis.”
As the Texas Legislature prepares for the next session, Governor Abbott ordered state agencies to outline statutory changes, budget priorities, and other initiatives that will enhance the state’s ability to interdict the synthetic opioid, provide emergency overdose treatment, and expand substance abuse treatment programs. Agencies can coordinate with the Texas Opioid Abatement Fund Council to further amplify efforts.
Governor Abbott also directed relevant state agencies to begin coordinating efforts to raise awareness of fentanyl’s lethality and prevalence. Agency leaders are instructed to inform the Texans they serve of the full dangers of fentanyl by taking actions such as developing public service announcements, posting flyers in prominent locations around regulated facilities, training staff, and providing educational opportunities to the people agencies serve.
Governor Abbott issued the letter to leaders of state agencies that serve populations that would be affected by fentanyl, including:
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Steven McCraw
Texas Health and Human Services Commission Executive Commissioner Cecile Young
Texas Department of State Health Services Commission Dr. John Hellerstedt
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Jaime Masters
Texas Juvenile Justice Department Interim Executive Director Shandra Carter
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Dr. Harrison Keller
Texas Workforce Commission Executive Director Ed Serna
Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brian Collier