(The Center Square) – After fentanyl-linked deaths, including a 40% increase in overdose deaths in San Francisco earlier this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced four agencies were launching a new operation to target fentanyl trafficking.

On Friday, he announced the California Highway Patrol and California National Guard were partnering with the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office to combat fentanyl trafficking.

Newsom said the “new collaborative partnership” would provide “more law enforcement resources and personnel to crack down on crime linked to the fentanyl crisis, holding the poison peddlers accountable, and increasing law enforcement presence to improve public safety and public confidence in San Francisco.”

CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee said his agency was “allocating additional resources for high-visibility traffic enforcement within the city of San Francisco, with a focus on reducing the trafficking of illegal drugs and the number of impaired drivers.”

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said the new resources would improve his office’s “ability to fight crime and prosecute suspected drug dealers and traffickers making our communities safer for residents and businesses.”

Through the operation, CHP is assigning personnel and resources to assist local law enforcement, including providing technical assistance, training and drug trafficking enforcement in key areas of the city like the Tenderloin. CalGuard is assigning specialists and resources “to support analysis of drug trafficking operations, with a particular focus on disrupting and dismantling fentanyl trafficking rings,” according to the governor’s office.

According to San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office data, 200 people in San Francisco died from January to March of this year from accidental drug overdoses, with the vast majority of them involving fentanyl, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. This is up from 142 overdose deaths over the same time period last year, representing a 41% increase.

Fentanyl-related deaths have largely occurred in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods. The Chronicle analyzed overdose data by metropolitan areas and found that San Francisco had the second-highest overdose rate and the second-highest death rate from fentanyl overdose in 2020 nationwide.

None of the officials mentioned the operation would target Mexican cartels or gangs known to be responsible for fentanyl production and trafficking into California.

Critics have said Newson should prioritize securing California’s border with Mexico to stop the trafficking of people and drugs.

San Diego has become an epicenter of illegal border-related activity. However, other major ports of entry and between – from Winterhaven in the southeast near Yuma, Arizona, to El Centro – are being hit hard with a record number of people and drugs being illegally trafficked to the U.S. from Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Randy Grossman has warned that San Diego “has become the epicenter of fentanyl trafficking into the United States.”

He’s said that over 60% of fentanyl that’s been seized nationwide has been seized in San Diego and Imperial counties—but this doesn’t account for the amount that hasn’t been seized. Law enforcement officials have told The Center Square they’re worried about an alarming volume that hasn’t been taken off the streets.

In one recent drug bust, federal agents arrested three Mexicans in Los Angeles for attempting to sell roughly 1 million fentanyl pills stored in one single car. California law enforcement officials and others throughout the U.S. have raised concerns, telling The Center Square they don’t know how many single cars full of fentanyl and how many individuals carrying backpacks full of fentanyl haven’t been caught who’ve illegally entered the U.S. whose whereabouts are unknown.

Not securing the southern border, Boudreaux said, “completely makes no sense to anyone in law enforcement.”

Boudreaux also raised the alarm after six people, including a 10-month-old baby, were murdered in his county in a cartel-style murder.

Mexican cartel and gang criminal activity exist nationwide, but Florida law enforcement officials in one operation recently seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly half of Florida’s population that had been trafficked from California.