Newsom Nearly Doubles CalGuard Task Force to Fight Drugs

By Sandra G. Leon

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he is increasing the number of California National Guard (CalGuard) members being deployed to help combat the flow of fentanyl and other drugs from Mexico.

Gavin Newsom
Governor Gavin Newsom

Newsom said the total number of full-time California National Guard County Drug Task Force members deployed throughout the state, including at ports of entry, will more than double from 155 to 392.

"Our top priority is the safety of our communities statewide. 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," Newsom said in a statement released by this office.

National Guard members serve in non-combat and non-law enforcement roles to support Customs and Border Protection officials at the border.

The use of CalGuard to help combat drugs is funded by state and federal funds.

Newsom’s office claims that CalGuard service members helped support the seizure of over 62,000 pounds of fentanyl in 2023, and an estimated 5.8 million pills containing fentanyl in 2024, including 2.3 million pills seized just in the month of April.

The Governor did not clarify how many of the additional CalGuard service members will be deployed directly along the US-Mexico border.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the number of drug-related deaths in 2022 by state, with California being the 15th lowest with 26.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to the three highest death rates having occurred in West Virginia (80.9 deaths/ 100,000k), Washington, D.C. (64.3 deaths/100k), and Tennessee (56 deaths/100k).

The three states with the lowest number of drug-related deaths were South Dakota (11.3/100k), Nebraska (11.8/100k), and Iowa (15.3/100k).

California experienced a total 10,952 drug-related deaths in 2022.

US Mexico border