According to the Department of Homeland Security’s annual threat assessment, while terrorism remains the number one threat to the homeland, illegal drugs are expected to be one of the greatest threats to national security next year, ABC News reported.
In its Homeland Threat Assessment 2024, released last Thursday, Homeland Security said while terrorism continues to pose a threat to the homeland, illegal drugs produced in Mexico and sold in the US will likely continue to kill and harm more Americans annually.
According to DHS, over the past year, drug traffickers have put more fentanyl on the market, fueling an increase in overdose deaths in the United States. Fentanyl is expected to remain the leading cause of drug-related deaths in 2024, the DHS report said.
Of the 100,000 drug overdoses last year, the CDC reports that 75 percent were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In a statement to ABC News, Homeland Security said it is committed to stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. In the past two years, DHS has seized more fentanyl and arrested more individuals for fentanyl-related crimes than in the previous 5 years, the agency said.
At the same time, domestic and foreign terrorism remains the top threat DHS is monitoring, particularly as terrorists target US critical infrastructure.
According to the report, the threat of violence from individuals “radicalized in the United States” will remain high in 2024, “but largely unchanged.” Domestic terror threats are typically from “lone offenders or small groups” and occur with little or no warning, the report said.
Foreign terror groups, including ISIS and al Qaeda, are continuing to rebuild overseas while maintaining a network of supporters worldwide that could seek to target the United States next year, DHS said.
The report also identifies the potential terrorist threats along the US border with Mexico with an increased likelihood of individuals connected to terrorist activities crossing the southern border in 2024. Last year, about 100 suspects on the terror watchlist were encountered at the border, the report said.