Ken Blackwell talks about the scourge of opioid overdoses in his home state of Ohio and argues that Trump’s border wall policies will help prevent more opioids from entering the country. With the border police spread too thin along the 1,954-mile-long border, Blackwell believes a massive southern wall would help bring control to the southern border.
- Will a border wall be effective in stopping cartels from shipping opioids north?
- Would it be more effective to spend on domestic resources instead of a border wall?
- Would more border patrol agents stop drug smuggling better than a border wall?
Recent bipartisan legislation is a good start — but there’s more to do.
In my decades of public service, I’ve never seen anything like the opioid epidemic ravaging our nation right now. Last year, nearly 50,000 Americans died from overdoses involving opioids. That was an increase of nearly 7,000 from 2016 — which was itself an increase of about 9,000 from 2015. The numbers have been climbing for nearly two decades now, thanks in large part to the introduction of a synthetic drug called fentanyl.
Fentanyl is powerful pain medication — 100 times stronger than morphine — often used as a sedative for large animals. Just two milligrams of the substance is lethal to an adult, making it almost as deadly as ricin. What has made it especially fatal is that it is now often laced into other drugs, such as heroin, pills, and even marijuana, without the users knowing it. Narcotics police have even abandoned field tests of drugs out of fear they may accidentally come into contact with fentanyl.
Take a look at what’s happened in my home state: Ohio had the second-most opioid overdose deaths in the nation last year, with a total of 4,329 deaths, or 39.1 per 100,000 people. The city of Dayton is the birthplace of the Wright Brothers, inventors of flight, but addicts seeking more dangerous highs have helped the city become known as America’s overdose capital. More overdoses occur in Dayton than anywhere else in the nation. The reason behind this is the same for why there is so much human trafficking in the area: the interchange of Interstate 70 and Interstate 75 lies just outside the city. Smugglers use this highway interchange to move people, guns, and drugs north to Canada or east to the coast. Almost every drug that gets to New York travels up from the southern border and through Dayton.
Fortunately, Republicans and Democrats alike have recognized the seriousness of the opioid crisis and are acting in bipartisan manner to solve it. President Trump last week signed into law the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which takes a multifaceted approach to the problem by addressing treatment, recovery, and prevention. The bill passed the House 396-14 in June and the Senate 99-1 earlier this month, a heartening sign of bipartisanship in these polarized times.
But there’s more to be done. A documentary recently produced by Sara Carter, a Fox News columnist, shows how Mexican drug cartels contribute to this crisis. The film, “Not In Vein,” is emotionally powerful and well researched. Carter spent years studying the topic and interviewing experts, including law enforcement officials. Carter interviews those who have been on the front lines of the battle against opioids in law enforcement and with families who’ve suffered the horrific loss of a child from the scourge of this addiction. She found that the cartels move their drugs and people into the country by exploiting certain areas of the United States-Mexico border. Tunnel systems, spotters, and midnight attempts all play a role in smuggling drugs into the nation.