NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee authorized additional Tennessee National Guard support to be sent to the U.S. Southern Border in early 2022 to curb a surging drug crisis.
“An open border has far-reaching consequences that are fueling a drug crisis impacting both our national security and the safety of our state,” said Gov. Lee. “I have authorized additional Tennessee Guard support at our Southern border as we look to address drug trafficking at the source.”
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, drug seizures along the Southern border continue to increase each month. More than 200,000 pounds of fentanyl and methamphetamine – leading drivers of drug overdose – have been seized in 2021 so far. Tennessee recorded over 3,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020, which was a 45% increase from the previous year.
Approximately 50 Tennessee Guard personnel will deploy in early 2022 to support the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Safety. While the Tennessee National Guard has supported security efforts for decades along the U.S. Southern border, this deployment responds to the growing surge in illegal crossings and drug-related activity. Last July, Lee visited more than 300 Tennesseans stationed at the border.
“Our Soldiers and Airmen are capable and ready to come to the aid of our fellow Americans along the Texas border,” said Tennessee Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes. “Their service and sacrifice carry on a long-standing tradition and are rooted in a long line of Tennesseans who established the Volunteer Legacy that distinctly marks our great state.”