Chutzpah In Action

On Tuesday, Judicial Watch posted an article about a drug smuggling tunnel recently discovered in San Diego.

The article reports:

Mexican drug smugglers are really getting bold. A cross-border tunnel recently discovered by U.S. authorities exits in a San Diego warehouse right next to a busy Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry. It gets better. The southern California warehouse is manned by Illegal immigrants even though it is situated just a few hundred yards from a hectic border crossing staffed with federal agents around the clock.

A Mexican national with legal residency has been arrested and charged in connection to the operation, federal prosecutors announced this month. His name is Rogelio Flores Guzman and he helped construct the tunnel, which runs 2,000 feet from a Tijuana warehouse to the south San Diego depot. The U.S. has charged the 31-year-old with trafficking fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana via a subterranean tunnel stretching from Mexico to a warehouse in Otay Mesa. When authorities entered the tunnel, they found around 575 packages of drugs worth nearly $30 million, according to a bulletin issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ). This sets a record because it marks the first time that five different types of drugs are found in a tunnel, according to the feds.

Agents from a special tunnel task force confiscated 394 packages containing 585 kilograms of cocaine; 133 packages containing 1,355 kilograms of marijuana; 40 packages containing 39.12 kilograms of methamphetamine; Seven packages containing 7.74 kilograms of heroin and one package containing 1.1 kilograms of fentanyl. “Cross-border tunnels always spark fascination, but in reality they are a very dangerous means for major drug dealers to move large quantities of narcotics with impunity until we intervene,” said the federal prosecutor in charge of the case, U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “We have seized this tunnel, confiscated almost $30 million in drugs and now we’ve charged one of the alleged crew members.”

That $30 million in drugs might have killed a lot of Americans.

The article notes the changes in drug smuggling techniques since President Trump closed the border:

There was a significant increase in Mexican smuggling tunnels after President Donald Trump increased border security in 2017. One southern California news conglomerate reported that criminal organizations in Mexico were improving the tunnels they use to smuggle people and drugs under Trump’s border fence, making them smaller and maintaining a high level of sophistication that includes railways and electricity. “In San Diego, tunnels are usually sophisticated partly because of the highly organized criminal organization operating in Baja California – the Sinaloa Cartel – as well as the characteristics of Otay Mesa, a neighborhood that exists on both sides of the border,” the article states. “In the U.S. and in Mexico, Otay Mesa is crowded with warehouses, providing numerous spaces to hide tunnel entry and exit points.” Operating one right next to a U.S. border crossing packed with federal agents is quite brazen.

We need to stop the smuggling, but we also need to find a way to help the people who are addicted to these drugs. There would be no point in smuggling the drugs if there were no market for them in America.

Good News About Life Expectancy In America

CBS News posted an article today stating that the average life expectancy in the United States has increased for the first time in four years.

The article reports:

Life expectancy in the United States is up for the first time in four years.

The increase is small — just a month — but marks at least a temporary halt to a downward trend. The rise is due to lower death rates for cancer and drug overdoses.

“Let’s just hope it continues,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The article notes:

Cancer is the nation’s No. 2 killer, blamed for about 600,000 deaths a year, so even slight changes in the cancer death rate can have a big impact. The rate fell more than 2%, matching the drop in 2017.

“I’m a little surprised that rapid pace is continuing,” said Rebecca Siegel, a researcher for the American Cancer Society.

Most of the improvement is in lung cancer because of fewer smokers and better treatments, she said.

Also striking was the drop in drug overdose deaths that had skyrocketed through 2017. The death rate fell 4% in 2018 and the number of deaths dropped to about 67,400.

Deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers went down. However, deaths from other drugs — fentanyl, cocaine and meth — continued to go up. And preliminary data for the first half of 2019 suggest the overall decline in overdose deaths is already slowing down.

It’s still a crisis, said Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University researcher. “But the fact that we have seen the first year where there’s not an additional increase is encouraging.”

The article concludes:

Nationally, for all causes of death, more than 2.8 million Americans died in 2018. That’s about 26,000 more than the year before, the CDC report found. The number went up even as the death rate went down, because the population is growing and a large group consists of retirement age baby boomers.

Hopefully we can find a way to stem the plague of illegal drugs in America.

Why Do We Need A Secure Border?

There are a number of different reasons we need to secure out borders–north, south, east, and west.

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation list a few basic facts about our current border situtation:

  • Over the past two years, roughly 235,000 illegal immigrants were arrested—including roughly 100,000 for assault, 30,000 for sex crimes, and 4,000 for homicides.
  • 300 Americans die of heroin overdoses a week, and 90 percent of that heroin is smuggled through our southern border.
  • Loopholes in our immigration law coupled with our porous border encourages parents to send their children on a dangerous journey to the U.S., often at the hands of threatening human traffickers. 68 percent of migrants are victims of violence along the journey. One in three migrant women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek to the border.
  • Securing the border is the first step. We also need rational reforms such as a skills-based migration system and an end to chain migration.

So what is the solution? Below are some of the items President Trump has asked Congress to fund:

  • $5.7 billion for construction of approximately 234 miles of steel barrier along the Southern Border
  • $675 million to deter and detect dangerous materials crossing our borders like narcotics and weapons
  • $563 million that would provide for 75 additional immigration judges and support staff who are necessary to reduce the backlog of immigration cases that are sitting right now at the border
  • $211 million for 750 additional border patrol agents, who DHS officials have deemed paramount to this fight
  • $571 million for additional ICE personnel
  • $4.2 billion for detention center materials and personnel

As a first step to combat this crisis, Congress must pass a spending bill that provides the funding that the President has requested. In addition to obtaining increased border security funding today, we must continue to push for real reforms to our legal immigration system. Necessary reforms include ending chain migration, adopting a skills-based immigration system, and closing loopholes in the asylum claim process.

Securing the border should not be a political issue. It is an issue that impacts all Americans–lower wages for low-skilled workers, drugs smuggled in that have killed countless Americans, increased crime, and an unsustainable burden on those government programs designed to create a safety net for Americans in need. It’s time to seal the border and take care of the needs of Americans among us who are homeless or living in poverty,

Yes, The Drug Companies Do Not Always Act In The Best Interest Of The Consumer

On Wednesday Reuters reported that Michael Babich, former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY.O), pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid medication and has agreed to become a government witness.

The article reports:

Prosecutors allege that from 2012 to 2015, Kapoor, Babich and others conspired to pay doctors bribes in exchange for prescribing Subsys, an under-the-tongue fentanyl spray for managing severe pain in cancer patients.

Fentanyl is an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prosecutors said Insys paid doctors kickbacks in the form of fees to participate in speaker programs ostensibly meant to educate medical professionals about Subsys that were actually sham events.

Prior to working at Insys, Babich had worked at Kapoor’s venture capital firm.

Insys in August said it had agreed to pay at least $150 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The company has said it has taken steps to ensure it operates legally going forward.

On November 29, 2018, The New York Times reported:

A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic.

New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. Overdose deaths are higher than deaths from H.I.V., car crashes or gun violence at their peaks. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.

The article includes a number of graphs showing the increase in drug overdoses in recent years and the role that fentanyl  has played in that increase.

This is only one aspect of the opioid epidemic, but at least some action has been taken on this aspect.

 

This Will Continue As Long As There Is A Market For It

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 52 bales of cocaine near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands last week. The street value of the cocaine is roughly $30 million.

The article reports:

CBP officials said Puerto Rico is becoming an attractive smuggling route this year for cocaine and heroin headed for the United States. In 2017, CBP seized nearly 66,000 pounds of drugs in and around Puerto Rico, more than any prior year on record.

“Drug trafficking organizations have always sought to use the Caribbean as a route to smuggle both narcotics and migrants. The logistics to do so are intrinsically more complicated than traversing the southwest border,” Jeffrey Quinones, a spokesman for CBP’s Puerto Rico and Virgin Island outposts, told the Washington Examiner. “Nonetheless, we have seen cyclical increases in the quantity of narcotics brought to these islands and a diversity of means to conceal and enter the product.”

This illustrates the need to have secure borders surrounding our nation. Obviously these drugs would not be smuggled in unless Americans were using them, but the fact remains that the flow of drugs needs to be stopped. At that point we will have a much better chance of helping those addicted.

The Problem With Border Security Causes Problems Within America

Yesterday Townhall posted an article about some recent arrests in Georgia.

The article reports:

Thanks to a combined effort of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Lawrenceville Police Department, East Point Police, and the Georgia State Patrol four Mexican nationals have been arrested in Gwinnett County, GA this week for their connection to a Mexican drug cartel. These illegal aliens were found with 5 million dollars worth of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin laced with fentanyl as well as $850,000 in cash and weapons located in a storehouse in the metro Atlanta area.

According to NBC 11 Alive, DEA Special Agent in Charge Robert Murphy said the investigation into the cartel started last year. Friday’s drug bust of the men’s home occurred after a tip came in on Thursday evening.

We had people connected to a Mexican drug cartel operating in Georgia. These people were selling drugs. Among those drugs was heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl kills people. Cartels kill people. If the southern border were properly sealed, do you think these people might have had at least a slightly more difficult time doing business in America?

Our open border is a risk to all Americans. We need to close our borders to illegal immigrants and drug traffickers. We need to revise our immigration policies so that people can come here legally if they are willing to assimilate, follow the laws of America, and become contributing citizens. Otherwise, there is no reason for them to be here.

One Example Of Why We Need To Secure Our Borders

Yesterday Townhall.com posted an article about Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nival, who plead guilty to fentanyl, heroin and cocaine conspiracy charges in federal court on June 6. Mr. Nival lives in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Lawrence has been heavily impacted by the opioid epidemic that has plagued America. From 2013 to 2017, 140 people in Lawrence have died from drug overdoses.

The article includes the following information about Mr. Nival:

Santo Ramon Gonzalez Nival, a 40-year-old Dominican national, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, and one count of illegal reentry of a deported alien, according to a statement released by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling.
Nival has been detained since his arrest in May 2017. At the time of his arrest, he was illegally in the United States after being most recently deported May 19, 2009, according to Lelling.
In May 2017, Nival was charged after “a year-long investigation aimed at attacking the fentanyl and heroin crisis in Lawrence and surrounding areas,” according to the statement.

…Nival will be sentenced in September.

It is time to secure the border so that someone like this man cannot return after being deported. Thank goodness he is being kept in jail while he awaits sentencing.

 

Progress Made

The Washington Examiner reported today the the Justice Department has target for arrest at least 48 people who were involved in a “multi-state heroin and fentanyl network.”

The article reports:

The takedown was in Huntington, W.V. — a city U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart called the “epicenter of the opioid crisis.”

“Huntington has become ground zero,” he told reporters earlier Tuesday. “The highest per capita overdose death rate for opioids is in Southern District of West Virginia.”

 The arrests were ongoing Tuesday, he said, and wouldn’t necessarily end Tuesday either.

The take down targeted the Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization, and charged at least 15 individuals with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the Southern District of West Virginia,

Another 15 were indicted in county court Monday, and additional members are expected to be charged in Detroit.

”At least 48 individuals are targeted for arrest on various narcotics, violent crime and firearms related charges at the federal or state level as determined by the circumstances of each matter,” the Justice Department said.

The drug trafficking organization has been operating in Huntington for nearly 15 years, trafficking heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine from Detroit to Huntington, the Justice Department said.

The operation took at least 450 grams of fentanyl off of the streets — enough to kill more than 250,000 people.

We have a major drug problem in America. According to the chart I found at statista, in America the highest number of deaths from drug overdoses occur to Americans between the ages of 25 and 55.

This is the chart:

Number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. from 2014 to 2016, by age

It is interesting to me that the age range that generally has the greatest amount of disposable income is the age range that is most likely to die from a drug overdose. It is very sad that many people get involved with drugs during the most productive years of their lives.

Hopefully the taking down of the drug network in West Virginia will be the beginning of dealing with one aspect of America’s drug problem.