Border crisis being felt in Bay County, officials say

Bay County

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — With a rise in drug busts in Bay County, law enforcement said the crisis at the Southern border is being felt right here at home.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said he can attribute a rise in criminal activity in the area to the illegal immigrant crisis.

Ford said he is frustrated with the federal government’s response to the border crisis as it is now affecting Bay County.

“We can tie 95% of the drugs that come across the border specifically when we are talking about the worst of the worst,” Ford said. “The fentanyl, the heroin, the meth that is coming over in quantities that I have never seen in my 28-year career.”

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office shared figures showing the recent increase in drug busts in recent years.

“Six pounds of meth April 28, 6.5 pounds of meth and 1.5 pounds of fentanyl and heroin back in June,” Ford said. “August 6 was a really large one with about 13 pounds of meth seized. The vehicle that we stopped here in Bay County had been over the border nine times.”

Ford said during one drug bust, they seized 3.6 ounces of fentanyl, enough to potentially kill 50,000 people.

“The more of it that you have in the community, the more people that are going to be addicted to that, and that’s borne out in our overdose numbers,” Ford said. “The first six months of this year we had over 200 overdoses, primarily opiate-related.”

U.S. Representative Neal Dunn said a way to combat this is to reduce the market for it by getting people in rehab and teaching kids about drugs at a younger age.

“You need to get down in there in the elementary schools and they need good role models, like SROs in the school, who actually talk to these kids and show them the bad things about drugs,” Dunn said. “We need to not have our citizens become drug addicts in the first place.”

Ford said he supports governor Ron DeSantis’s offer to help Texas with border enforcement and has offered to send a handful of local deputies to the border.

“We remain available for that but I think some of the thought behind that is not taking local law enforcement out of the community until it was necessary but we are certainly able to do that,” Ford said. “And we are not talking about sending 50 deputies from here, we’d send 10 or so to help augment the Texas law enforcement.”

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