Fetanyl is behind nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths, which totaled 72,000 in 2017 alone. The drug has killed everyone from a 10-month-old baby who accidentally ingested her parents’ stash to A-list celebrities the likes of Prince.
The increase in production and popularity of the drug, which is 80 to 100 times more powerful than heroin, should ramp up border security concerns for every American––and push politicians arguing over budget concerns to find a compromise quickly. On both sides, we see people more concerned with scoring political points against each other than severing fatal drug ties linked to the deaths of tens of thousands each year in our country.
This week, countless lives were spared––at least for now––with the largest seizure of Fentanyl in U.S. history at the Arizona-Mexico border. $3.5 million worth of the drug and $1.1 million worth of meth were discovered by U.S. Customs and Borders (CBP) after they’d been loaded under the floor bed of a truck attempting to cross the border in Arizona. Thanks to the keen instincts of border agents, the tractor-trailer transporting produce was stopped on suspicion.
After undergoing an inspection, the drugs were sniffed out by a canine team. In a press conference days after the seizure, officers emphasized the deadliness of Fentanyl in particular.
— CBP Arizona (@CBPArizona) January 31, 2019
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report shows more people are now dying from opioid overdoses than car crashes, a stunning development. Fentanyl is the leading cause of this increase, accounting for about half of total deaths.
The driver of the truck holding the seized drugs is a 26-year-old Mexican national who will face federal drug trafficking charges. The Mexican drug trade is nothing new but, the overdose uptick is––and it’s hitting every demographic. For example, overdose deaths in women over 30 across the board have increased by 500 percent over the last 20 years.
Without a serious crackdown on security through technology, more border agents, enforcement, and reform of current law, plus extended barriers at the border, we cannot attack this problem as it requires.
It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on their respective solutions so that Americans are protected immediately and immigrants experiencing crisis at the border due to disheveled policy are respected and protected as well.
Most of those attempting to enter the country illegally are not connected with the drug trade, but protecting them and the American people requires strong, clear enforcement of the law. A recent Harvard poll shows that 80 percent of Americans prefer secure borders over open borders, but there is disagreement on what that security looks like.
President Trump and top Democrat leaders are in an epic battle over that specifically. The longest partial-government shutdown in American history just ended seven days ago due to this disagreement.
The argument centers on a border wall, but this is also old news. We already have a partial border wall, and it’s working well in some places. More barriers won’t stop the flow of illegal drugs entirely, but it will help and funding such barriers would only be 0.1 percent of the entire government budget.
Increased security will certainly will help curb illegal immigration, which fuels the drug trade, since some of these individuals establish connections in American cities at the center of the problem.
In his epic book “Dreamland,” Sam Quinones expertly documents the infiltration of the drug trade as almost a multi-level-marketing scheme that actually works for those with any good sales savvy. The sales were and still are an assault on America’s small towns and cities, places and people you might never have expected to see drugs ending lives a couple of decades ago.
Acknowledging the connection between illegal immigration and the epic loss of life due to opioid overdose is a crucial aspect of this conversation. Every lawmaker involved in this important policy debate should table their dislike of the opposite party for a moment and think first of the American people who deserve better than this squabbling.