Why Border Security Matters

Yesterday Fox News posted an article about a recent drug seizure at the Arizona border.

The article reports:

A drug bust last year was hailed as the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history—254 pounds seized at an Arizona border crossing.

The seizure came as the scourge of fentanyl continues to fuel the opioid epidemic, ravaging communities across the U.S. while killing tens of thousands of people.

“Fentanyl also continues to be a tremendous problem, contributing to 68,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2018,” Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Congress in November. He said CBP’s seizures of fentanyl rose by 30 percent in fiscal year 2019, totaling 2,770 pounds.

Fentanyl comes from China. Often it is smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico by drug cartels involved in a violent war with Mexican police and military forces.

The historic 254-pound bust was just one of a half-dozen big fentanyl busts recorded by law enforcement in recent years, a tally shows.

These six busts have led to the seizure of some 818 pounds of fentanyl–enough to kill 229 million people, according to authorities.

The article lists the six major drug busts. Please follow the link above to the article to see the details.

On March 22, 2019, I Heart Radio reported:

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows how the opioid epidemic has ballooned over the past six years. The report found that from 2011 to 2016, the number of overdose deaths from the synthetic opiate fentanyl has risen by over 1000 percent.

The CDC says that in 2011 and 2012, around 1,600 people died each year from a fentanyl overdose. The number of deaths rose to 1,900 in 2013, but in 2014 officials saw the number of fatalities jump to 4,223. In 2015 the number of deaths nearly doubled to 8,251, and in 2016 there were another 10,000 deadly overdoses, bringing the total to 18,335 for the year.

The massive spike in fentanyl-related deaths was seen mainly in men. Up until 2013, the number of men and women who overdosed on fentanyl was about the same, but in 2014 the numbers began to diverge, and in 2016 there were three times as many men killed from an overdose as women.

Fentanyl is now considered the deadliest drug in America and is responsible for 29% of all overdose deaths in the nation.

Border security matters.

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.

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.

 

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.