VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood was back in Florida Monday after taking a trip to the Mexican Border.
“To see it firsthand," he said. "It really is like, what are we doing here? What is the mission?"
What You Need To Know
- Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood recently spent two days in McAllen, Texas
- He was there as part of a trip put together by U.S. Rep. Kay Cammack
- Chitwood said he wanted to see the U.S./Mexico border firsthand to get a better feel for the drug problems there
Chitwood spent two days in McAllen, Texas, as part of a trip for law enforcement officials organized by U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack. Chitwood said it's a trip he wanted to make to see the root of some of the problems in Volusia County.
"Clearly there is a nexus between what is going on at the border and what is going on in Florida, particularly what is going on in Volusia County when it comes to the drug trade,” he said.
While shadowing border patrol agents and meeting with Homeland Security, Chitwood said the things he saw in person were mind boggling.
“There is a human component, a human tragedy that is going on there, and embedded in that is absolute criminality and thuggery," he said. "You know there are organized gangs that are coming into this country, there is a plethora of narcotics that are coming in. You know they seized 458 pounds of fentanyl so far this year just in the McAllen sector alone.
"Forty five percent of all the drugs that enter the country come through that sector — that is enough fentanyl to kill every resident in the state of Florida eight times over.”
Chitwood said it is frustrating as a sheriff to see the drugs and human trafficking that goes on, but now feels that he knows firsthand how overwhelming a problem it is.
“One border patrol agent — when I asked, 'Tell me, what do you feel about your job?' — he says, 'My job is there is a leak in the kitchen and I have this great mop and I have all these people to help me mop, and I keep mopping up this water. The problem is nobody wants to fix the leak.'"
This is one reason why Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was in Texas this weekend, said he recently had 50 Florida law enforcement officers deployed to the border. Chitwood said he expects his office could get called on soon, which is another reason he wanted to visit the border.
“If I had a problem here and I needed help, I would expect resources to come from all over the place, and we are ready to stand part of that,” he said.
According to Chitwood, over the last 4 years, close to 1,000 Volusia County residents have lost their lives to fentanyl. He hopes to see action on the horizon to help put a stop to the drug smuggling.
“There has got to be a system of rules, it has to be bipartisan, and I think at the end of the day they have to come together, the American people, and the safety of our communities has to come first, it has to come first,” he said.
When it comes to sending deputies to the border, the Sheriff’s Office officials said it would be no different than deploying deputies to help with hurricanes. They have flexibility to shift resources to make sure there are still plenty of law enforcement officers to cover the county.
Chitwood's trip cost just under $1,000 and was paid for using the VCSO Drug Forfeiture Fund.