U.S. Fentanyl Deaths Reach Tragic Record High
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year in the United States more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses, the largest number of drug-related deaths ever confirmed in a single year. In 2020, led by fentanyl-related fatalities, opioid deaths accounted for 75 percent of all overdose fatalities.
Unlike other industries that suffered business losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, drug runners enjoyed a booming, near-insatiable trade. One reason, explained the National Institutes of Health’s director Dr. Nora Volkow, is that since fentanyl is easily produced, and only a small hit creates an addictive high, it’s effortless to smuggle across the border. Unchecked fentanyl trafficking has had, in addition to soaring death rates, other adverse consequences. Among the impacts that Dr. Volkow identified are “decreased access to addiction treatment, increased social and economic stressors, and overburdened health departments….” These harmful variables, Dr. Volkow concluded, “collided in 2020 and were associated with a tragic rise in overdose deaths.”
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that experts consider up to 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, two other drugs that, when used for other-than medical applications, are addictive and deadly. Most commonly, fentanyl flows from China, through Mexico and its cartels, then proceeds northward on routes that lead to the San Diego border, finally arriving at the U.S. interior.
Another popular method of pure fentanyl distribution is directly from Chinese laboratories to U.S. customers via the mail, packed in small, hard-to-detect packages. In January 2020, the Drug Enforcement Agency wrote that Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) were “producing increased quantities of fentanyl and illicit fentanyl-containing tablets, with some TCOs using increasingly sophisticated clandestine laboratories and processing methods.” One kilogram of pure Chinese fentanyl, about a $3,300 to $5,000 wholesale cost, can be converted into a diluted powder sold at a $300,000 street value. The further fentanyl travels from its border entry point, the steeper the retail value rises.
America’s battle against fentanyl is the latest, most damaging lost War on Drugs that the U.S. has suffered since 1970 when President Richard M. Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act. In the psychedelic era, drugs were, President Nixon said, “Public Enemy №1.” Determined to roust drugs out of U.S. society, President Nixon followed up when he created the Drug Enforcement Agency in 1973. At the agency’s outset, DEA employed 1,470 special agents and functioned with a budget of under $75 million a year. Today, the agency has nearly 5,000 agents and an annual budget of more than $2 billion. Despite spending $1 trillion over the last five decades, the War on Drugs has failed cataclysmically. The War will continue to be unsuccessful as long as the Biden administration’s open borders persist. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, acting with President Biden’s tacit endorsement, unashamedly refuses to do his sworn duty to protect the nation against invasion, and has thereby paved the way for drug contraband, and the deaths that go together with it, to continue unchecked.
CBP cannot cope with the unprecedented U.S. invasion, 200,000+ illegal immigrants in July and August, and seize fentanyl and other addictive drugs at the same time. The Center for Immigration Studies’ Andrew Arthur, a retired immigration judge who reported from Texas’ Del Rio sector, noted that CBP is stretched to “the breaking point.” Administratively attending to surging aliens takes time away from the agents’ principal task of stopping illegal entry. About 40 percent of CBP agents are “off the line,” meaning that they’re performing nonborder security-related tasks like migrant child care, feeding unaccompanied minors and providing comfort to weary travelers.
Biden and his White House have proactively chosen to allow cartels and other criminals to ply their multibillion-dollar enterprise, a larger cash cow than Walmart, safe from the federal government’s intervention. To the Biden administration, last year’s 93,000 American deaths are an inconvenient truth that won’t stop it from pursuing its open border, end-America agenda.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.