Dozens of state and local leaders visit southern U.S. border within days of Title 42 expiring

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 9:34 PM CDT
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PELL CITY, Ala. (WBRC) - Last week, state and local officials traveled to the United States’ southern border to learn more about issues like human and drug trafficking.

Pell City Police Chief Clay Morris says they got the idea after leaders wanted to see how drugs and people cross the border illegally daily.

“Some officials reached out to me, and we discussed their interest in seeing the border, just because of all the effects we have in Alabama with mainly fentanyl. That’s what drove our initial interest—seeing that firsthand,” said Chief Morris. “Being briefed by the state and federal officials. No one knows it better than them.”

Officials were able to attend various briefings to learn more about the illegal activities that happen every day.

“It’s no different with people smuggled across the country,” adds Morris. “Illegal immigrants or drugs, it’s all the same. They use the same routes. The drug cartels control the drug trafficking routes. Those routes are also used for people coming into the country.”

The trip had a mixture of local enforcement and state leaders to highlight what Morris says is an epidemic in our state.

“The focus of our trip was fentanyl because we have deadly effects of fentanyl here in Alabama,” says Chief Morris. “Which really quite helps us see the picture together. So when law enforcement comes to legislators, they can have a better understanding of why we need a fentanyl bill or why we need class D felonies to be changed.”

He says it was eye-opening and a reminder of how bad the fentanyl problem is and how it affects everyone.

According to the CDC, over 150 people die daily from overdoses related to opioids like fentanyl.

“It truly is an epidemic,” says Morris. “And unfortunately, we have the overdose deaths to back that up. The overdose across the country is staggering. We deal with it here in Pell City. We had four officers from St. Clair County from three different agencies overdose on the same event just a month and a half ago. Some of those officers had to be administered Narcan more than once.”

Chief Morris says thankfully those officers are fine, but he says it was a scary situation that could’ve been much worse. He says he looks forward to continuing work with leaders to find ways to fix this problem.

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