Recently, my office was asked what the costs/expenses are for me to travel to the Southern border and what costs the county incurs for me to attend various Sheriff’s Association meetings. In an effort of full transparency, I feel compelled to offer the ‘big picture’ and also to continue to sound the alarm regarding the many threats facing our country today.

One of the many duties of the Sheriff is to establish protocols to deter crime from happening. Moreover, it is paramount that the Sheriff, the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the county, identify and address the threats and dangers of criminality facing their jurisdictions, the State of Idaho, and our Nation. My job is NOT to sit back and wait for the threat to come to us.

To fully understand these threats, one must focus on where the vast majority of those threats originate. That is, unequivocally, the Southern Border. Transcontinental Criminal Organizations (TCOs) such as the notorious Mexican Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CNJC) are two of the most ruthless and powerful Cartels in the world. Both have vast representation and established operations throughout the United States. They have had decades to develop their business model, and their primary customer is U.S. citizens, including those of us in Canyon County and the Treasure Valley.

In 2022, the Mexican Cartels were the 5th largest employer in Mexico, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Science. The Mexican Cartels have long been and continue to be in strong collaboration and partnership with the Communist Regime of China. China is the world’s leading supplier of precursors (80%) for the manufacturing of fentanyl and methamphetamine, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Once the precursors reach Mexico, the cartels produce the finished products in the form of powder, illicit counterfeit pills, crystal meth, etc., and smuggle the deadly drugs into our country. Last year, the U.S. experienced over 107,000 overdose deaths, with the vast majority attributed to fentanyl. Here in IDAHO, there were 600 fentanyl overdoses in just the first 46 days of 2023.

Recent DEA analysis has determined that six out of every ten illicit fentanyl pills contain a lethal dose (anything over 2mg is considered a lethal dose). In the early three months of 2023, the DEA seized 10.2 million fentanyl pills across ALL 50 states. In 2022, the DEA seized 379 million doses of fentanyl — enough to kill every person in America. In Idaho, the numbers are just as alarming. More than 156,000 fentanyl pills, 12 lbs. of fentanyl powder, and over 100 lbs. of methamphetamine were seized just this year in five separate incidents across our state. My agency alone was involved in the seizure of over 35,000 fentanyl pills and 118 lbs. of methamphetamine in just the past two years.

With the drug trade comes violence. There is a strong correlation between the two, most of which originates at the southern border. The Mexican Cartels take advantage of our porous borders to bring the violence and territorial control of their plazas to our doorsteps. The criminality and human victimization does not stay at the borders. Its tentacles stretch to every community in our country.

The threats are real. They are not imagined. In addition to the increase in deadly drugs and the rise in violence, we also face an unprecedented influx of bad actors into our country. In FY23, CBP apprehended 169 Known and Suspected Terrorists (KSTs) and more than 2.48 million illegal immigrants from 180 different countries. For FY23, CBP also reported 600,000 gotaways (not apprehended). We do not know who they were, where they are, or what nefarious activities they are planning.

As the Sheriff of Canyon County, I believe it is my duty and responsibility to be aware of the dangers facing my county, state, and nation, and be in the fight to stop the threat. I believe the people who elected me expect me to do so. This may cost the county some money. But I’d venture it pales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing.

Sheriff Kieran Donahue is the Vice President of the National Sheriffs Association. He is the Vice-Chairman of the NSA Government Affairs Committee and a member of the NSA Border Security Committee. He is a long-standing member and past Chairman of the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area executive board (funded by the Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). He is a Past President of the Idaho Sheriffs Association (ISA), currently sits on the Board of Directors, and is the Legislative Chairman for the ISA. In 2022, Governor Little Appointed Sheriff Donahue to Operation Esto Perpetua to meaningfully reduce the flow of fentanyl and methamphetamine into the State of Idaho. Sheriff Donahue holds a Top-Secret Clearance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Click here to view the guest opinion on the website of the Idaho Press.