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Governor deploys Montana National Guard to help secure southern border

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News from the office of Governor Gianforte

HELENA — On April 2, Governor Greg Gianforte announced a deployment by the Montana National Guard (MTNG) to support the state of Texas in its efforts to secure the southern border of the United States.

The announcement coincided with the governor signing an executive order declaring a disaster on the southern border.

“Today, I signed a disaster declaration to mobilize Montana resources to help secure our southern border,” Gov. Gianforte said. “President Biden has left our southern border completely exposed and overrun by drug cartels, who are bringing deadly crime and drugs into our country. While he refuses to do his job, Republican governors are stepping up to do it for him.”

In response to a request from Texas through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the MTNG will place ten soldiers on State Active Duty to support efforts in response to a declared state of emergency on the Texas border.

The team consists of volunteers who are scheduled to arrive in Texas on April 8, where they will be part of Operation Lone Star. The group is scheduled to return on May 12.

“The soldiers and airmen of the Montana National Guard are always ready to respond to requests for support from our fellow states,” said Major General J. Peter Hronek, the Adjutant General for Montana. “In recent years we have provided support outside our state in response to hurricanes, flooding and fires, and on this mission we will be supporting Texas in their ongoing border mission.”

In February, the governor met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and 13 other governors to hear directly about the invasion at the southern border. 

Ahead of the visit, Texas submitted a request for support from other states through a mutual aid agreement that allows National Guard members to provide assistance outside of their home state.

On Feb. 13, Governor Gianforte directed MTNG leadership to work with Texas to identify ways Montana can support Texas, including identifying volunteers for a potential support mission.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Rocky Mountain Field Division, more than 3 million fentanyl pills were seized in 2023, a 78 percent year-over-year increase, in the region that includes Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming.

Gov. Gianforte took strong action to crack down on traffickers last year, signing into law increased penalties for drug trafficking, including the trafficking of fentanyl, and imposing a mandatory minimum sentence of two years of jail time, a $50,000 fine, or both, for anyone convicted of trafficking fentanyl in the state of Montana.

 This announcement follows several steps taken by the governor in response to the Biden administration’s failure to secure the border:

Gov. Gianforte led a group of 25 governors to demand answers from the president on who is entering the country illegally and where they are relocating. The governors have yet to receive a response.

Gov. Gianforte joined the American Governors’ Border Strike Force, a collaborative effort established among 26 states to secure the border. Among other focuses, the strike force is working to improve coordination and communication to combat the trafficking of illegal drugs.

Gov. Gianforte increased penalties for drug trafficking, including the trafficking of fentanyl, and increased penalties for human trafficking. Since 2019, Montana has experienced an 11,000 percent increase in fentanyl seizures. Since 2015, the Montana Department of Justice has tracked an 871 percent increase in human trafficking cases in Montana.

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