There is a Drug Crisis at the Border?
While media outlets have long denied a crisis at the southern border of the United States and Mexico. NBC News finally came around and reported, "There is a crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico." Despite their belligerent interpretation of the crisis and how they believe President Trump is exacerbating the situation, they are failing to acknowledge the specifics of the situation that finally called for the President to call a crisis at the border.
Aside from the element of human trafficking, a rise in gang affiliations and the criminal element; there is an issue of illegal deadly drugs coming into the United States.
The United States has seen an uptick in the amount of illegal opiates coming across the border. Many from legal ports of entry. Since we do not have verifiable evidence to assess illegal ports of entry, we can not report data on how many drugs are entering the United States using drug mules or other modes of transportation.
If you consider, that drugs are responsible for more deaths than firearms, as per the below chart, you must consider the routes of entry into the United States.
Between 2015 and 2016, while there was a slight increase in deaths related to firearms, the above chart indicates a rapid increase in drug poisoning related drug overdoses. Drug overdose deaths involving selected drug categories, heroin natural and synthetic opioids, and fentanyl.
What happened to the United States to cause such an increase in drug-related deaths, and how can this be prevented?
According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, "In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. Opioid overdose rates began to increase. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. That same year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive)."
Many doctors were encouraged to prescribe opioid's because they were told it was inhumane to allow a patient to suffer.
According to the CDC, Center for Disease Control, the opioid epidemic came in three waves. The first in the early nineties with physicians being misled by the pharmaceutical industry.
The second wave with the increase in deaths due to heroin. "As heroin use has increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths – 15,482 people died in 2017 alone. Between 2010 and 2017, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths increased by almost 400%."
The third wave involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. "Illicitly-made fentanyl use is on the rise. Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl, increased almost 47% from 2016 to 2017.3 Roughly 28,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017."
This begs the question, where are the drugs coming in, and who is responsible for the heroin in the United States? On the Customs and Border Patrol website, Commissioner Kevin McAleenan is quoted as saying, "Like those who distribute and sell drugs on the streets, the criminals who import and distribute narcotics into this country are relentless in their quest for profits and power,"
Since currently there are no sites in the United States that grow the poppy for the manufacturing of illegal opioids, these drugs are being manufactured outside of the United States and trafficked in. Many times through legal ports of entry, and it is undetermined how many drugs are brought into the United States through lax security measures or inadequate borders.
There has been a marked increase of seizure of heroin at all but two locations along the border. The highest being El Centro California having a 238% increase from 2016 to 2017. These are what has been reported from the US Customs and Border Protection. There is no way to adequately determine how much has actually crossed the border without being detected.
It is questionable of House Democrats have initiated an inquiry into the increase of illegal drugs flowing over the border due to their lax border comments. Presidential contender Robert Francis O'Rourke said he would take down existing walls and fencing at the U.S.-Mexico border if he could. It is uncertain if he has examined the increase in drug trafficking between Mexico and the United States, or his solution to the existing problem affecting thousands of drug-addicted individuals living with the states.
While demand increases so does supply, and drug cartels know this and have invented ingenious methods of transportation. From bait and switch, tunnels between the countries, to human mules to carry drugs over the border, they are inventing new methods constantly to avoid detection of illegal substances.
Should the United States decide to make a definitive stance on the drug crisis in the United States, there are several avenues they could take. First and foremost is to eliminate the illegal entry of persons trafficking drugs. More border fencing and walls would prevent drug cartels from using unsecured areas to transport drugs. Second, would be better technology to detect drugs such as heroin and fentanyl coming through legal ports of entry. More customs and border agents for seizing drugs along the border.
Should the government shut down the border and allocate more resources to detecting alternative routes of narcotics entering the border? We report the issue, you decide.
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