Members of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s reelection campaign handed out empty pill bottles with a fake label attached that blamed President Joe Biden’s “open border” policies for an increase in fentanyl deaths in the state at a campaign event for Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
According to Madlin Mekelburg of the Austin American-Statesman, who tweeted photos of the bottles at the Wednesday night event, the bottles contained a piece of paper with statistics about fentanyl and the number of Americans who die from overdoses.
The label reads, “Beto Biden Open Border Crisis,” with the fake “prescription” being given to O’Rourke and a figure for fentanyl deaths in 2021 printed below. A warning at the bottom of the label claims that “open border policies” have increased the amount of fentanyl entering the US.
Members of Abbott’s campaign staff were reportedly distributing bottles to the audience at O’Rourke’s event before being escorted out, according to Mekelburg.
Inside the bottle was a piece of paper with a quote from National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd saying that the Border Patrol is “lucky if we seize 5% of fentanyl pills coming across the border.”
The paper also includes a list of 1,334 fentanyl deaths in Texas reported for 2021, as well as information about the lethality of fentanyl, the amount required for a lethal dose, and a “factoid” claiming that over 150 people die every day from overdoses caused by “synthetic opioids like fentanyl.”
“Texas has been the LEAST insured state every year under Abbott,” O’Rourke tweeted Thursday morning, seemingly in response to the campaign tactic.
“What if, instead of a governor who spends his time handing out prop prescription bottles, we had a governor who expands Medicaid so that more Texans can finally see a doctor and afford their lifesaving prescriptions?” O’Rourke wrote.
According to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a more than 1,000 percent increase in the amount of fentanyl seized at Texas’ southern border for fiscal year 2021.
When contacted for comment, O’Rourke’s campaign pointed Newsweek to O’Rourke’s Thursday tweet and said it “stands for itself,” adding that any fentanyl deaths in the last eight years occurred under Abbott’s watch.
“Fentanyl is flooding into Texas as a result of the Beto-Biden open border policies, turning our southern border into a distribution center of death,” Abbott’s Communications Director Mark Miner said in a statement to Newsweek. “Instead of securing the border and stemming the tide of fentanyl, President Biden and Beto O’Rourke have pushed dangerous open-border policies that have resulted in an increase in death and destruction in communities across Texas.”
Earlier on Thursday, Newsweek reported on O’Rourke’s current “Keeping the Lights On” campaign events honoring those who died in the 2021 winter storm that knocked out parts of Texas’ power grid. The bottles were distributed at one of those events on Wednesday night in Austin.
Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times stronger. 1,2 It is a prescription drug that is also illegally manufactured and used. It is a pain reliever that, like morphine, is commonly used to treat patients who are in excruciating pain, particularly after surgery. 3 It is also used to treat chronic pain patients who are physically tolerant to other opioids. 4 Tolerance develops when you require a higher and/or more frequent dose of a drug to achieve the desired effects.