Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Don Barnes has come out in support of a congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against powerful Mexican drug cartels smuggling the deadly drug fentanyl into the United States.

“The drug cartels are American communities with the deadly drug fentanyl and they continue to destroy the lives of so many people on both sides of the border,” Barnes states in a letter of support sent to U.S. Representatives Dan Crenshaw and Mike Waltz, the principal sponsors of House Joint Resolution 18.

“It is time for the federal government to take meaningful action against these hostile drug trafficking organizations,” wrote Barnes.

HJR-18 would officially designate these Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) and authorize the use of military force against their operations inside Mexico.

It is estimated that two-thirds of the 107,000 American drug overdose fatalities in 2021 were caused by fentanyl use. While fentanyl is prescribed by physicians to treat severe pain, Mexican drug cartels are engaged in a lucrative cross-border smuggling trade in the powerful drug.

In his letter, Barnes pointed out that fentanyl deaths in Orange County are rising dramatically, skyrocketing from 37 in 2016 to 717 in 2021.

In 2021, the OC Sheriff’s Department seized 104.6 pounds of fentanyl and 16,278 fentanyl pills. In 2022, according to Barnes, seizures rose to 449.9 pounds and 405,283 fentanyl pills

“House Joint Resolution 18 is critical legislation needed to help restore border security and reverse the trend in fentanyl-related deaths,” Barnes said.