SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Gov. Kristi Noem is sending 50 National Guard troops to the southern Texas border to help eliminate drug and human trafficking. 

“The South Dakota National Guard is going to the southern border to fight for our country,” Noem said in a statement on Friday. “There is no one that I trust more to help end this war zone and secure our nation than these brave men and women. I thank them for answering the call to serve and for fighting for freedom.”

In June, Noem made the announcement she would be sending help. In August, she said they would be deployed September 1 when she joined Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Texas Governor Greg Abbott in Eagle Pass, Texas, for a news conference.

“I recognize what we are facing that this really is a war. It’s a war for our country,” Noem said at the news conference. “The federal laws that have been passed are threatening our sovereignty right now. The cartels are out for blood and they are facilitating the trafficking of our children every day.”

According to Noem, she was the first Governor to answer Abbott’s request for aid on the southern border two years ago. In May of this year, Abbott requested additional support, and now 14 Republican governors are collectively sending more than 1,000 troops to the southern border. 

“We have 14 Governors who are deploying personnel to secure the border that President Biden has abandoned,” Abbott said at the news conference. “We, as states, share an obligation and that’s to step up and address this unparalleled catastrophe caused by President Biden.”

Noem also condemned Biden, saying his refusal to take action and follow the law has caused every state to become a border state and deal with the effects of drug and human trafficking coming in from the southern border.

“What I find so shocking about the way Biden continuously violates federal law, is the lack of humanity in these policies,” she said. “These policies are inhuman, of what they’re doing to these people and these families. The cartel is using these children to cross this border, to get their drugs and to sell those children and take advantage of them.”

According to the United States Border Patrol, officials have seized 194,043 pounds of drugs from the southwest border in 2023 so far, including 23,551 pounds of fentanyl. Noem said in a news statement Friday law enforcement in South Dakota captured 32 pounds of fentanyl last year, which is enough to kill 7.2 million people.

“The fact is, it doesn’t stop in Texas,” Noem said at the Texas news conference. “I deal with it every single day in South Dakota. Our crimes have gone up. Our drug issues have gone up consistently and that’s because we have cartels set up in South Dakota, too.”

In her statement Friday, Noem said, “Mexican drug cartels use tribal reservations, like those in South Dakota, as a launchpad to facilitate the spread of their evil throughout the country.”

South Dakota is home to nine tribal reservations that are under the control of the tribal and federal government. Noem said this has made it difficult to catch drugs coming in and out of the reservations. 

KELOLAND News reached out to Noem’s communication team for further information on how much the mission will cost, a timeline on how long the troops will be deployed and data on drug cartels setting up in South Dakota. At the time of publishing, we have not heard a response but we will update the story when we do.