WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Earlier this week the United States and Mexico agreed to reinstate the Remain in Mexico Policy, this coming as Texas increases activity on Operation Lone Star to combat human and drug smuggling.

Operation Lone Star is increasingly focused on the more rural parts of the U.S.-Mexico border where illegal border crossings are more common. Over the last week, the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety (DPS) increased focus on the La Joya area.

The Texas National Guard saw a higher than normal number of encounters as part of the operation.

“We had 696 turnbacks from Wednesday to Wednesday,” said Major Mike Perry of the Texas National Guard. A turnback is when National Guard or DPS gets people who were attempting to illegally enter the country to return to Mexico without arresting or alerting Customs and Border Protection. “We’re here to repel and to block any criminal activity coming into the state.”

The National Guard and DPS cannot arrest people for illegally entering the country except under specific trespassing circumstances. One of Governor Greg Abbott’s primary goals for Operation Lone Star is to stop drugs from entering the country.

While there are several different types of drugs that are smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico, South Texas DPS Lieutenant Chris Olivarez said “the primary focus for us as a state agency is to focus on this lethal drug fentanyl. How it is borne into the United States and how it’s killing thousands of Americans.”

Fentanyl is smuggled over the border and then dispersed all over the country. Even though the drug often comes into the U.S. over the southern border, DPS officials say it is an international operation to get it there.

“The chemicals used to synthesize fentanyl, those are being sent over from China and India into Mexico. It’s being synthesized in Mexico and then imported up,” explained Jennifer Hatch, a chemist that works for DPS.

A lethal dose of fentanyl can be as little as two milligrams. Olivarez said DPS has stopped enough fentanyl during Operation Lone Star to kill 200 million people.

“160 pounds of Fentanyl during Operation Lone Star only in the areas of the Rio Grande Valley, Del Rio, and the Eagle Pass/Big Bend areas. But, statewide, we’re at 726 with a combined total of 866 pounds,” Olivarez said.