‘Almost exclusively coming from Mexico’: How drug trafficking across the border is impacting Southwest Virginia

In 2022, over 650,000 pounds of drugs were seized at the U.S.-Mexico border

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s a concern among many.

Drugs making their way through the U.S.-Mexico border into our communities in Southwest and Central Virginia.

10 News spoke with United States District Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Chris Kavanaugh about what his office sees when dealing with drug cases.

“We are seeing so much of the narcotics that are in our community, originate in Mexico and are from the cartels in Mexico,” he said.

In the last year, Kavanaugh said his office has prosecuted 37% more drug related cases.

They’ve also noticed other changes in trends.

“I think 10 or 15 years ago we saw a lot more powder cocaine and crack cocaine, now we are seeing fentanyl and meth be the lion’s share of the work that we are doing,” Kavanaugh said.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in 2022, over 650,000 pounds of drugs were seized at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Out of those drugs collected, over 25% was methamphetamine. 23% was marijuana.

Another problem our region is seeing is the rise in fentanyl, which officials said is often mixed with other dugs, sometimes unknowingly.

“We are seeing fentanyl in so many different types of narcotics whether it pressed pills, cocaine, methamphetamine it’s finding itself everywhere,” Kavanaugh said.

The rise in fentanyl and overdoses is why organizations like New River Valley Community Services and Rockbridge Area Prevention Coalition offer resources to those suffering from addiction.

They also try and educate people about addiction and provide free naloxone training, the overdose reversing nasal spray.

“I think we need to recognize this issue as a public health concern. It is a crisis that affects us all in some way either directly or indirectly and we need to be more open minded to help people who struggle with additions,” Mike Wade, the Coordinator of Community Wellness at New River Valley Community Services, said.

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