One Consequence Of An Open Border

On Saturday, Sharyl Attkisson posted an article about the increase in drug overdoses in America and the relationship between that increase and our open southern border.

The article reports:

The following is an excerpt from the Executive Summary of the Commission on Combatting Synthetic Opioid Trafficking.

Cumulatively, since 1999, drug overdoses have killed approximately 1 million Americans. That number exceeds the number of U.S. service members who have died in battle in all wars fought by the United States. Even worse is that the United States has never experienced the level of drug overdose fatalities seen right now.

In just the 12 months between June 2020 and May 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdose—more than twice the number of U.S. traffic fatalities or gun-violence deaths during that period. Some two-thirds of these deaths—about 170 fatalities each day, primarily among those ages 18 to 45—involved synthetic opioids.

The primary driver of the opioid epidemic today is illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin.

In 2018, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the cost of overdose fatalities was $696 billion, despite being roughly two-thirds of annual overdose deaths today. It is therefore reasonable to estimate that drug overdoses are now costing the United States approximately $1 trillion annually.

Given these fatalities, the Commission finds the trafficking of synthetic drugs into the United States to be not just a public health emergency but a national emergency that threatens both the national security and economic well-being of the country.

The article continues:

In less than a decade, illegal U.S. drug markets that were once dominated by diverted prescription opioids and heroin became saturated with illegally manufactured synthetic opioids. Some of these synthetic variants are cheaper and easier to produce than heroin making them attractive alternatives to criminals who lace them into heroin and other illicit drugs or press them into often-deadly counterfeit pills.

Mexico is the principal source of this illicit fentanyl and its analogues today. In Mexico, cartels manufacture these poisons in clandestine laboratories with ingredients—precursor chemicals—sourced largely from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Because illicit fentanyl is so powerful and such a small amount goes such a long way, traffickers conceal hard-to-detect quantities in packages, in vehicles, and on persons and smuggle the drug across the U.S.–Mexico border.

It is difficult to interdict given that just a small physical amount of this potent drug is enough to satisfy U.S. demand, making it highly profitable for traffickers and dealers.

Indeed, the trafficking of synthetic opioids offers a more profitable alternative to heroin for Mexican drug traffickers. The Mexican government, in part out of self-preservation and in part because the trafficking problem transcends current law enforcement capacity, recently adopted a “hugs, not bullets” approach to managing the transnational criminal groups. However, such approaches have not been able to address trafficking issues, and further efforts will be needed.

The article concludes:

U.S. and Mexican efforts can disrupt the flow of synthetic opioids across U.S. borders, but real progress can come only by pairing illicit synthetic opioid supply disruption with decreasing the domestic U.S. demand for these drugs.

Congress established the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to examine the causes of the influx of synthetic opioids, to understand how to reduce the trafficking of these drugs, and to identify solutions to mitigate a worsening overdose death crisis.

The magnitude of this fast-moving problem and the unique challenges it presents will require a new and different national response across all levels of government and policy domains.

Read or download the entire commission report here.

In a sense, the drug problem has something in common with the current debate over abortion. Until we have a cultural change that makes marijuana (a gateway drug) use socially unacceptable, we will not be able to solve the drug crisis. Until we make abortion socially unacceptable, overturning Roe vs. Wade will only be a small step forward. Peer pressure is real, and it has a lot to do with the drug problem in America. As long as teenagers and young adults believe it is cool to smoke marijuana, a percentage of those teenagers and young adults will go on to more dangerous drugs. In the past thirty years, we have seen the cultural change in the area of cigarette smoking. Smoking in a restaurant thirty years ago was acceptable, now it simply does not happen. We need to make similar changes in the areas of drug use and abortion.

This Doesn’t Make Me Feel Safe

On April 12th, Breitbart reported that five sexual predators were arrested last week in the West Texas Border Sector of our Southern Border.

The article reports:

Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jason D. Owens tweeted this week about the arrest of a previously convicted sex offender. The Mexican national attempted to hide in a group of 15 migrants who illegally crossed the border on April 5. The man identified by CBP officials as Honorio Santa Maria-Vasquez has a 2009 conviction from a court in Indiana for sexual misconduct with a minor.

…Earlier that day, Carrizo Springs Station agents arrested another group of seven migrants attempting to sneak into the U.S. interior. During processing, agents identified a Guatemalan national, Selvin Danilo Chocooj-Boztoc as a criminal alien with a conviction in Washington State for forcible sex abuse in the 3rd degree from 2018.

…On April 9, Chief Owens reported that the Mexican government extradited Braulio Davila and turned them over to agents from the Del Rio Sector Foreign Operations Branch. Davila, a sex offender, has an active warrant out of Pecos County, Texas.

…Shortly after midnight on the morning of April 4, Eagle Pass Station agents apprehended a group of three migrants who had just crossed the border into Texas. During a records check, agents identified a Guatemalan man, Delfidio Escobar-Guzman, 43, as a convicted sex offender. A Colorado court convicted the man for a “Sex offense in the 4th degree.”

Two days earlier, Brackettville Station agents found a group of nine migrants attempting to sneak around the immigration checkpoint by trespassing on a ranch. During processing, agents identified a Mexican national, Isais Hernandez-Ulin, 38, as a criminal alien with a conviction from a North Carolina court for felony indecency with a child.

So far this fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2021, Del Rio Sector agents arrested more than 660 criminal aliens, officials stated.

There are a lot of reasons we need to seal our southern border. Criminals can easily mix in with the crowds coming across, fentanyl is coming across in record amounts, and there are numerous human rights abuses against the immigrants along the way. It’s time to finish the wall and enforce our laws.

What Happens At The Border Effects All Of Us

On Wednesday, Townhall posted an article that illustrates how the crisis at America’s southern border effects all of us.

The article reports:

Think you live too far from the Mexican border to be hurt by the chaos there?

Bloomfield is a picturesque village in central Connecticut, 3,500 miles from the Mexican border. But illegal drugs flowing across that border nearly killed a 16-year-old student at Bloomfield High School two weeks ago. He tried marijuana, not knowing it was laced with fentanyl. Police rushed to the school nurse’s office and administered two doses of Narcan just in time to save him.

Responding to the surge in teen overdoses, Connecticut’s Gov. Ned Lamont is asking, “How did this happen? How is there more fentanyl on the streets than ever before?” Look south, Governor.

Hidalgo County, Texas, Sheriff J.E. Guerra, who operates on the frontlines of the border war, explained that he’s not worried drugs will impact his community. “The drugs go further north,” he said.

Drug thugs cross the border disguised as needy migrants or even unaccompanied minors. Once across, they’re provided bus and airplane tickets to destinations across the U.S. In some cases, charities — largely taxpayer-funded — pay for the tickets, and hand the border crossers cellphones and other items as they start their journeys north.

Other times, “Biden Air” flies migrants stealthily at night into places like Westchester County airport, close to the Connecticut border.

Once far north of the border, drug thugs are invading middle schools and high schools and killing our teens.

Unfortunately we are in a place where every child and every young adult needs to be told, “Don’t take any drug or any pill that is not from a bottle that has your name and a doctor’s prescription number on it!” Fentanyl is coming into America in record amounts because of the lack of security at our southern border. Recreational drug use is now Russian Roulette with your life.

What Were They Thinking?

On Wednesday, Townhall reported that House Democrats blocked consideration of H.R. 6184, also called the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act, which was offered by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Kat Cammack (R-FL).

The article reports:

The bill would have permanently placed fentanyl-related substances into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, making it illegal to sell the molecularly-altered fentanyl substance manufactured by criminals, instead of its normal classification as a Schedule II under the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The emergency class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances is set to expire on February 18. Fentanyl and related drugs, trafficked through the U.S.-Mexico border, are currently the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States. Mexican drug cartels, using substances imported from China, have largely switched over to producing and trafficking fentanyl because it is not limited to a growing season and it is easier to smuggle through the ports of entry and between the ports of entry along the southern border.

Griffith’s bill would have granted researchers the ability to conduct studies on these substances.

“We recently learned from the CDC that between May 2020 and April 2021 more than a hundred thousand overdose deaths occurred in the United States – an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous year…Because fentanyl has a proven medical use, it is considered a Schedule II narcotic, but elicit derivations of fentanyl, also called fentanyl-analogs or fentanyl-related substances, do not tend to demonstrate medical value,” said Griffith.

The article concludes:

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, testified to members of Congress on Tuesday that due to Border Patrol agents being bogged down with processing family units and children who willingly give themselves up, they are unable to arrest the drug smugglers who are bringing in fentanyl between the ports of entry.

Fentanyl is killing Americans. It needs to be permanently placed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, making it permanently  illegal to sell the drug. Fentanyl is one of the main reasons we need control of our southern border.

The Cost Of The Open Border

On Saturday, The Epoch Times posted an article about the amount of fentanyl coming across our southern border.

The article reports:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reported a 1,066 percent increase in fentanyl seized in south Texas ports during fiscal year 2021.

Border agents at eight ports of entry extending from Brownsville to Del Rio said that between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, they seized 87,652 pounds of narcotics that would have commanded a combined estimated street value of $786 million, CBP reported on Jan. 5.

Of this, 41,713 pounds was marijuana, 8,592 pounds was cocaine, 33,777 pounds was methamphetamine, 1,215 pounds was heroin, and 588 pounds was fentanyl. That’s a 1,066 percent increase in fentanyl seizures, as well as a 98 percent increase in cocaine seizures, from the year prior.

They also reported having seized $10.4 million in unreported currency, 463 weapons—up 21 percent from FY 2020—and 84,863 rounds of ammunition.

The eight ports of entry comprise the Laredo Field Office. The CBP officers at these ports of entry also noted that in FY 2021, more than 20,701 non-U.S. citizens were inadmissible to the United States due to violations of immigration law.

Randy J. Howe, the Laredo Field Office’s director of field operations, said in a statement that despite significantly less traffic due to travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, “the drug and contraband threat remained the same.”

“Our significant gains in fentanyl and cocaine seizures underscore the deadly nature of the contraband we encounter, the need to utilize Personal Protective Equipment to protect our officers and our continued resolve to carry out our vital border security mission,” he said.

An unsecured southern border is a national security threat because we have no idea who is crossing the border and a national health issue–because of the coronavirus and because of the Americans who have died because of fentanyl use.

The article concludes:

China is “the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations, as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States,” the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said in its 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment report (pdf).

A record number of Americans—more than 100,000—died of drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending in April, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and fentanyl was involved in almost two-thirds of those deaths, making it the largest cause of overdose deaths in the United States.

Overall, during fiscal year 2021, CBP confiscated a total of 11,200 pounds of fentanyl—up from 2,150 pounds the year prior, signifying a 521 percent increase.

It should also be noted that some of the deaths from fentanyl have been because someone took a pill they believed to be Oxycontin or some other pain killer that had been laced with fentanyl. The lesson to all Americans should be that you should never take a pill unless it is from a pharmacist and in a bottle that has your name on it.

Ruining A City Already In Peril

On Tuesday, The New York Post reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has created the first legal ‘shooting gallery’ for drug addicts in the city.

The article reports:

With just four weeks left in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the country’s first legal shooting galleries Tuesday morning, calling them safe havens for addicts — shortly before five people overdosed at just one of the clinics on opening day.

“Overdose Prevention Centers are a safe and effective way to address the opioid crisis. I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible,” de Blasio said in a statement.

The nonprofit-run centers, New York Harm Reduction Educators on E. 126th Street in Harlem and Washington Heights’ CORNER Project on W. 180th Street, opened Tuesday.

There were five overdoses at the East Harlem site that saw 85 users inject drugs laced with fentanyl including heroin on Tuesday. 

This is not the way to deal with the drug problem. Also, this is a big change to make four weeks before leaving office.

The article concludes:

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), whose district includes Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, called on the Department of Justice to block the sites, noting that under former President Trump the DOJ said such sites would violate the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Malliotakis wrote US Attorney General Merrick Garland Tuesday urging him to “take swift action to enforce federal law.”

The congresswoman cited a Jan. 2021 Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that determined it was a federal crime for a supervised injection site run by a Philadelphia nonprofit to allow consumption of illegal drug use at its location.

“Instead of focusing on the root cause of the drug epidemic, Mayor de Blasio is enabling drug cartels that continue to break our laws, smuggle illegal drugs over our border, and prey on our children,” Malliotakis said.

“Crime and fentanyl use are at record highs because of open borders, botched bail reform, and anti-police policies that keep releasing criminal drug dealers back onto our streets. Opening taxpayer-funded heroin shooting galleries is not a proper solution. These centers not only encourage drug use but they will further deteriorate our quality of life,” she said.

De Blasio has largely turned a blind eye to daytime drug sprees in major city hubs like the Garment District and the Triangle Plaza Hub in the Bronx.

It might be a good idea to acknowledge that a good deal of our drug problem in America is related to two things–an open southern border and the Chinese manufacturing and selling of fentanyl. Until we are willing to address those two issues, we will continue to have an addiction problem in America. Setting up ‘safe’ places to take illegal drugs does nothing to combat either problem. There is no law regulating illegal drugs or controlling what is in them. There is no guarantee that an illegally purchased drug will not contain a fatal does of fentanyl.

I Think We Have Our Priorities Wrong

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today with the following headline, “Custom Officials Seize Small Packages of Lifesaving Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine in Chicago While Record Amounts of Fentanyl Continue to Flow Across Southern Border” What? Has our government forgotten their obligation to protect Americans?

The article reports:

Customs and Border officials captured two small packages of Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport recently. The two drugs would not have raised an eyebrow before the COVID pandemic. But since the Democrats and media politicized the completely safe, inexpensive and effective medications the Customs agents are on the lookout for these cheap drugs.

The agents captured packages of 100 Ivermectin pills, 32 Ivermectin pills and 40 hydroxychloroquine pills.

The article quotes a Newsweek article:

The press release said that while officers were conducting an x-ray inspection of a package from China, “officers noticed some discrepancies.” The package stated that it contained “decorative beads,” CBP said.

After officers noticed the discrepancies within this package, they conducted a further investigation and discovered that instead of “decorative beads,” the package actually contained 100 tablets of Ivermectin…

…In addition to the package from China, CBP said that they intercepted another package arriving from Mexico that contained 32 more Ivermectin tablets and 40 Hydroxychloroquine pills.

Hydroxychloroquine was previously given emergency use authorization from the FDA for treatment against COVID-19 but on June, the agency repealed its authorization and warned against using it outside of a hospital setting.

I think certain branches of our government have their priorities out of order.

Suing To Protect Americans

Newsmax is reporting the following today:

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is suing the Biden administration over its refusal to restore the Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy, saying that without it, fentanyl is flowing across the nation’s southern border and causing deaths in his state. 

“Ending the Remain in Mexico policy will undoubtedly lead to an increase in illegal drug trafficking and thus senseless deaths from fentanyl,” Morrisey said in a statement issued Thursday. “I’ve long believed that a lawsuit should not be necessary to force the government to secure our southern border.”
However, he said his office sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in June, but the administration has “failed to respond to our concerns. The border is more porous than ever. In the face of such silence and inaction, and because so many lives are at stake, litigation is the only remedy left to West Virginia.”

The article concludes:

Morrisey asks the court in the lawsuit to find that canceling the Remain in Mexico program was both rash and ill-considered, and to “remand the termination” of the policy and to order the defendants to “consider the impact the termination of MPP has on border security and the trafficking of fentanyl across the Southwest border into the United States.”

The mainstream media has been covering the crisis at our southern border as a humanitarian crisis (which it is) because of the thousands of immigrants coming into America, possibly with Covid, with no money and no place to go. They have chosen not to put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the drug smuggling and people smuggling are a financial windfall to the drug cartels. By refusing to finish the border wall, President Biden has essentially funded the Mexican drug cartels supplying the drugs that are destroying many of the youth in America. Hopefully this lawsuit will be successful.

Dogs Are Amazing

Yesterday Sara Carter reported that Border Control canines found $60k worth of fentanyl pills hidden inside burritos.

The article reports:

A Yuma Sector Border Patrol canine uncovered almost $60,000 worth of the drugs in the backpack of a man crossing a checkpoint near Arizona, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a press release Tuesday.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated the following in their press release:

A canine handler referred the male driver of a Chevrolet Tahoe to the checkpoint’s secondary inspection area at approximately 3 p.m., after his canine partner alerted to the vehicle. While in secondary, the canine alerted to a black backpack that was located inside the vehicle. Agents searched the backpack and discovered several small packages containing fentanyl pills that were stuffed inside breakfast burritos.

The packages of fentanyl had a combined weight of just over five pounds with an estimated street value of nearly $60,000.

A 37-year-old Lawfully Admitted Permanent Resident was arrested and the fentanyl was seized and processed per CBP guidelines.

Smugglers are under the false assumption that they can disguise drugs within food to throw off canines and their handlers. On the contrary, canines have the ability to detect a target odor among a myriad of other odors.

Our local sheriff one commented that a person might walk into a house and notice that there was beef stew cooking. A dog’s sense of smell is so acute that he would be thinking ‘you left out the carrots.’ Thank God for our men at the border and the dogs that work alongside them.

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.

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.

Leadership Matters

Yesterday Fox News posted an article about what is currently happening on our southern border.

The article reports:

The Mexican government announced Friday that the number of migrants coming to its border with the U.S. had dropped by 56 percent over the past three months as the country tries to avert President Trump’s threatened tariffs on Mexico’s exports to its northern neighbor.

Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, citing data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said the number of migrants apprehended at the frontier in August was 63,989 in August, down from 146,266 in May. Those numbers included people who presented themselves at U.S. ports of entry and were deemed inadmissible.

This is the policy that created the change:

The U.S. and Mexico agreed in June to a 90-day window to allow Mexico to reduce the flow of migrants from Central America to the U.S. The agreement averted plans by Trump to impose a five percent tariff on Mexican goods in the U.S. that would have increased every month until it hit 25 percent.

Ebrard, is scheduled to meet with U.S. officials at the White House Tuesday to review the Mexican government’s progress.

“We’re showing that the strategy that Mexico put forward has been successful,” Ebrard told reporters. “I don’t expect a tariff threat Tuesday because it wouldn’t make sense.”

While drops in migration are typical during the summer months, officials denied any link between the drops in migration and seasonal trends.

The article notes:

Despite the apparent progress in stopping illegal migration, Ebrard repeated his government’s refusal to become a so-called “third country,’ as Trump has proposed. That would require migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to apply for such protections in Mexico instead.

“The Mexican strategy is working,” said Ebrard, according to Agence-France Press. “We will not agree to be a safe third country … because it goes against our interests. It is unfair to our country.”

How would being a safe third country be unfair to Mexico and not be unfair to America? That is the question.

The article concludes:

Trump has not yet responded to the latest figures, but on Wednesday he seemed very pleased by Mexican efforts. “I want to thank Mexico, the Mexican government, their great President of Mexico, for helping us,” he told reporters. “They’re helping us in a very big way. Far bigger than anybody thought even possible.”

In addition to stopping U.S.-bound migrants, Mexico said it has been targetting smuggling networks, which it blames for instigating large migrant caravans bound for the U.S. which popped up earlier this year. Authorities have raided freight trains that migrants ride north, and pulled thousands off buses and out of the freight compartments of trucks. The government has warned bus and taxi drivers they could lose their permits if they transport migrants.

Progress. However, we need to remember that the porous border not only allows illegal immigration, it allows illegal drugs to be smuggled in. Too many families have been adversely impacted by fentanyl for us to let the smuggling continue.

An Interesting Perspective On Homelessness

Christopher F. Rufo posted an article in The City Journal about the homelessness that has become so prevalent on the west coast of America. The title of the article is, “An Addiction Crisis Disguised as a Housing Crisis.” Please follow the link above to read the entire article; it is very insightful.

The article states:

By latest count, some 109,089 men and women are sleeping on the streets of major cities in California, Oregon, and Washington. The homelessness crisis in these cities has generated headlines and speculation about “root causes.” Progressive political activists allege that tech companies have inflated housing costs and forced middle-class people onto the streets. Declaring that “no two people living on Skid Row . . . ended up there for the same reasons,” Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, for his part, blames a housing shortage, stagnant wages, cuts to mental health services, domestic and sexual abuse, shortcomings in criminal justice, and a lack of resources for veterans. These factors may all have played a role, but the most pervasive cause of West Coast homelessness is clear: heroin, fentanyl, and synthetic opioids.

Homelessness is an addiction crisis disguised as a housing crisis. In Seattle, prosecutors and law enforcement recently estimated that the majority of the region’s homeless population is hooked on opioids, including heroin and fentanyl. If this figure holds constant throughout the West Coast, then at least 11,000 homeless opioid addicts live in Washington, 7,000 live in Oregon, and 65,000 live in California (concentrated mostly in San Francisco and Los Angeles). For the unsheltered population inhabiting tents, cars, and RVs, the opioid-addiction percentages are even higher—the City of Seattle’s homeless-outreach team estimates that 80 percent of the unsheltered population has a substance-abuse disorder. Officers must clean up used needles in almost all the homeless encampments.

The article reminds us that drug-dealing is a lucrative industry for the cartels:

For drug cartels and low-level street dealers, the business of supplying homeless addicts with heroin, fentanyl, and other synthetic opioids is extremely lucrative. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the average heavy-opioid user consumes $1,834 in drugs per month. Holding rates constant, we can project that the total business of supplying heroin and other opioids to the West Coast’s homeless population is more than $1.8 billion per year. In effect, Mexican cartels, Chinese fentanyl suppliers, and local criminal networks profit off the misery of the homeless and offload the consequences onto local governments struggling to get people off the streets.

The article concludes:

No matter how much local governments pour into affordable-housing projects, homeless opioid addicts—nearly all unemployed—will never be able to afford the rent in expensive West Coast cities. The first step in solving these intractable issues is to address the real problem: addiction is the common denominator for most of the homeless and must be confronted honestly if we have any hope of solving it.

Part of the problem here is that some cities and states are moving toward legalizing recreational drug use. Obviously not all of that drug use will lead to further problems, but a percentage of it will–adding to the homeless problem. The other problem is that treating a drug addict will not be successful unless the addict desires to be free of drugs. You can lock up an addict until he is clean, but there are no guarantees that he will stay clean once he is out on the street again.

 

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.

 

One Weapon In Fighting The Opioid Epidemic

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about an agreement reached between Aetna Insurance and Abbot Laboratories.

The article reports:

Aetna (AET) agreed Tuesday to cover a chronic pain device from Abbott Laboratories (ABT) that acts as an alternative to potentially addictive opioids.

The decision extends coverage of Abbott’s dorsal root ganglion neurostimulation pain therapy to an estimated 22 million Americans living with chronic pain. By stimulating the dorsal root ganglion, a structure along the spinal column, Abbott’s device can mask pain.

“While Medicare already covers our DRG system, it’s encouraging to see payers like Aetna review the clinical data and outcomes, then choose to provide access to DRG stimulation for their members,” Keith Boettiger, vice president of Abbott’s neuromodulation business, said in a written statement.

…Neuropathic pain conditions are some of the most prevalent and under-treated forms of chronic pain in America, Abbott says.

These patients often try various medication, opioids or surgery to no end. Amid the opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration is pushing for medical devices to help combat the crisis. An estimated 116 people died every day in the U.S. in 2016 due to opioid-related overdoses.

Many of the people in America who are addicted to opioids began that addiction after being prescribed the drugs for pain. When the prescription ran out and they could not refill it, they turned to street drugs, which were cheaper and available. Unfortunately, there are no controls on street drugs, and they are sometimes laced with fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2016, lab-made fentanyl helped kill over half of the people who died of opioid overdoses.

Finding a way to combat chronic pain without opioids is one step in dealing with the opioid epidemic in America. Kudos to Aetna in taking a step in that direction by covering the DRG system.

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.