Pushing drugs, flouting borders
Congress has declared an opioid crisis in the United States. We have voted on a slew of bills recently, but notably absent is any legislation that addresses the source of the problem. So while we spent billions for addiction treatment, and we granted the Food and Drug Administration more authority to regulate expired or unused drugs and impose packaging restrictions, we did nothing that will have a meaningful impact. Why?
Because the problem is the opioid crisis is being brought to us in significant part by Mexican drug cartels who have partnered with Chinese labs. And they find it amusingly easy to deliver their product to the United States, because we have no real border security. And while many proclaim the urgency of the opioid crisis, most suddenly stop short when it comes time to deliver a real solution — a real border wall that is defensible.
Trial attorneys blame pharmaceutical companies who have the audacity to make pain medications to alleviate suffering, and the Massachusetts attorney general even sued Purdue Pharma for the laughably unserious allegation that narcotic pain medications are addictive. It has been widely known since the opium dens of China that narcotics are addictive. Clinton Lawson wrote in The New York Times that America has had a 150-year opioid epidemic. Narcotics and addiction are well known. Let’s not pretend we didn’t know this.
We need a real defensible border to stop the flow of illegal drugs. Right now the situation is volatile and dangerous. Recently another border agent was shot and almost killed on the Arizona border. The Customs and Border Patrol notes that 40 border patrol agents have been killed in the line of duty since 2003. The agent was alone and on foot in the early morning near Arivaca, Arizona. He would have died without his armor vest and other protective gear. Rancher Jim Chilton, a friend of mine, owns the property where the shooting took place and he took me there. There is nothing but some barbed wire there for the border “fence.” It would be a joke except that its deadly.
Mr. Chilton told The Washington Times that “the lack of a serious barrier, combined with the Border Patrol’s enforcement decisions, have effectively ceded miles of U.S. territory to the Sinaloa cartel, which has put scouts on his hilltops and blazed smuggling trails across his land.” The Sinaloa cartel is notorious for occupying this vulnerable U.S. territory in Arizona. Right now, all that prevents this cartel from trafficking drugs from Mexico to the United States is a barbed wire fence — which is to say there is no barrier at all.
In Arizona, we have miles of exposed terrain where drugs, guns, human trafficking and money are freely entering our country and flooding our communities. Opioids, including counterfeit pain medications, and other illegal drugs find an easy path to the United States. The Drug Enforcement Agency calls sections of the border the “Heroin Transit Zone,” where synthetic opioids made in China get shipped to Mexico, then are blended with Mexican opium, creating a cheap and lethal high.
Eighty percent of drug smuggling occurs between official border entry points. These wide-open ranges are a huge factor to our opioid epidemic that has plagued many American communities. Last month, the Trump administration’s task force successfully seized 9,000 fentanyl pills, enough to kill 20 million people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016, there were 15,469 deaths involving heroin; 14,487 deaths involving natural and semi-synthetic opioids; and 19,413 deaths involving synthetic opioids. Thousands of Americans are dying and still we have no wall. If we want to save lives, and if we want real security, we need a defensible border and we need it yesterday.