Ask someone about the opioid crisis in this country, and you will probably hear two things: First, it is overwhelmingly a problem in rural, white America. Second, it is mostly related to abusing prescription drugs. Neither is particularly accurate anymore.
While the crisis impacts small, remote communities quite heavily, increasingly it centers on illegal counterfeit drugs like fentanyl that are found in massive quantities nationwide. In 2016, the increase in overdose deaths in Maryland exceeded that in Kentucky. Nationwide fentanyl deaths were up 540 percent from the year before.
Congress needs to get in the game, and fast. While they’ve held several hearings on the opioid crisis focused on legally available prescription drugs, they haven’t done much to investigate Mexican and Chinese smuggling rings responsible for worsening the epidemic of addiction to fentanyl and other powerful drugs. They need to start now.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid far more potent than heroin, and fake prescription medications made to look like legitimate medications but made with dangerous combinations of illegal substances, are flooding the United States, courtesy of international smugglers. Ironically, as we have cracked down on the abuse of legal painkillers, many people just turn to illegal drugs on the black market. Unaware of the true nature of the substances they are purchasing, some pay the ultimate price.
China is a major source of the world’s fentanyl production. In fact, effectively all of the fentanyl seized in this country is traceable to China. The drug is smuggled into this country via Canada and Mexico through existing pipelines. It can also be purchased openly on the internet simply by providing payment and a shipping address. An open-air drug bazaar thrives on Chinese websites, providing one-stop shopping for buyers from all over the world.
Fentanyl lethal overdoses now far surpass those of prescription drugs. Two milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person. Carfentanil, a related opioid, is lethal in doses as small as a single grain.
Police in Boston earlier this year seized 33 pounds of fentanyl in one bust. That’s enough of that deadly substance to kill 7 million people. In 2017, Customs and Border Protection intercepted 1,296 pounds of fentanyl, and the Drug Enforcement Administration seized almost 400 pounds in New York City alone. That’s enough to kill the entire population eleven times over.
Counterfeit oxycodone pills manufactured in Mexico and smuggled into this country are often filled with heroin and fentanyl. They are then stamped to look like legitimate pills and sold to unsuspecting consumers who have no idea they are about to consume a substance far more powerful than the prescription drug they think they are taking. These counterfeit pills have been recovered in at least 40 states and been linked to deaths in at least sixteen.
Efforts to get the Chinese to address the flood of deadly drugs entering the United States have run into the same roadblocks that we have encountered in attempting to get the Chinese to admit their complicity in intellectual property theft and other illegal trade practices. Long delays and denials are followed by limited actions against specific websites and no real effort to address the problem on a larger scale. In most cases, as fast as a website is “outlawed,” the same actors are back in action under a different name and without suffering any meaningful consequences.
We are facing a national health emergency and a direct threat to national security. The danger posed by synthetic drugs like fentanyl dwarfs anything we have faced up until now in the so-called “war on drugs.”
Congress needs to better support law enforcement to more effectively stop the flood of poison. We need the full economic, legal, and political power of the United States.
Congressional hearings are urgently needed to consider what legislation may be required and what action the Trump Administration should take under its executive power. It is time to stop the drugs that are killing America.
Charles "Sam" Faddis is a Veteran, retired CIA operations officer, senior partner with Artemis, LLC and published author. With degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Law School, he is a contributor to sofrep.com, Newsmax, and The Hill among others. He regularly appears on many networks and radio programs as a national security and counter-terrorism expert. Sam is the author of "Beyond Repair: The Decline And Fall Of The CIA" and "Willful Neglect: The Dangerous Illusion Of Homeland Security." To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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