NEW CENTURY, Kan. — The Johnson County, Kansas sheriff is back from a trip to Texas he made with U.S. Senator Roger Marshall and four other Kansas sheriffs.
They travelled to McAllen, Texas for three days and three nights returning before the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“When it gets dark they say it really picks up, boy does it,” Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden said.
Hayden said he didn’t know what to expect making the trip, but was still surprised by what he saw as they tracked border crossers in the darkness along the Rio Grande.
“They’ve got all these law enforcement trying to do everything they can just to control what they can coming in and they are overwhelmed,” Hayden said.
He said they met a rancher who described the 92 bodies found in his field along the border this year alone. Border Patrol agents showed large bags of fentanyl that had been seized and bales of marijuana. Drugs he says are responsible for a huge surge in overdoses in the county. The sheriff said fatalities would be in the 1000s if not for nalaxone, used to reverse opioid overdoses.
“You always look for a nefarious looking person. That’s not necessarily whose carrying a big load of dope. The last big one we got looked like a soccer mom in a soccer van and she had $500,000 in there in her headliner,” Hayden said.
With 50 job openings among his 500 person staff, it’s a struggle to seize the drugs making their way into the county too. Plus the drugs are harder for authorities to find.
“It used to be you had to have big loads to have money. With fentanyl it can be a plastic bag this big and have millions in it,” Hayden demonstrated.
The sheriff’s approach to the war on drugs didn’t change from the trip, he still says it’s about education and treatment along with enforcement. But he said the all-hands-on-deck approach on the enforcement side still seemed like an uphill battle.
“It’s a national problem. It’s just tragic,” Hayden said.