NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Gov. Bill Lee is sending 50 Tennessee National Guard personnel to the Texas-Mexico border to help curb the flow of drugs into the United States.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, drug seizures along the Southern border continue to increase each month. More than 200,000 pounds of fentanyl and methamphetamine have been seized in 2021 so far.

Tennessee recorded more than 3,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020, which was a 45% increase from the previous year.

“An open border has far-reaching consequences that are fueling a drug crisis impacting both our national security and the safety of our state,” Lee said. “I have authorized additional Tennessee Guard support at our Southern border as we look to address drug trafficking at the source.” 

The Tennessee Guard members will deploy in early 2022.

Last July, Lee visited more than 300 Tennesseans stationed at the border.

“Our soldiers and airmen are capable and ready to come to the aid of our fellow Americans along the Texas border,” said Tennessee Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes. “Their service and sacrifice carry on a long-standing tradition and are rooted in a long line of Tennesseans who established the volunteer legacy that distinctly marks our great state.”