Border wall needed to protect against a 'caravan' of a different kind: drugs

Border wall needed to protect against a 'caravan' of a different kind: drugs
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As an estimated 4,000 illegal immigrants in a caravan continue to work their way toward the southern U.S. border, authorities and politicians alike are on high alert.

However, humans aren’t the only entity streaming across the border — drugs are, too — at the hands of the Mexican drug cartels and others. In fact, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol data for fiscal 2018 show that seizure of illegal drugs along the border have consistently increased in the past five years.

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This election season, as U.S. politicians wrangle with whether or not they want to support full funding for a border wall and increase number of border agents, they might also want to consider these other intruders coming uninvited over the border.

Illegal Fentanyl is flooding the southern border. According to a recent report, the illegal drug comes from two main sources: China and Mexico. It arrives in two ways: U.S. consumers order it directly from laboratories in China or Chinese companies ship it to smugglers in Mexico, where the goods are then shipped into the U.S. via popular trucking routes.

Regardless of how it arrives, it has become so prevalent that no political conversation about the “border crisis” is complete without it. 

In past years, the abuse of prescription drugs was the root cause of the opioid crisis, but there is new evidence that shows that is no longer the case.

In 2016, opioid deaths from synthetic opioids like Fentanyl surpassed “common opioid painkillers and heroin for the first time. As such, overdose deaths from prescription painkillers may no longer be the leading concern. 

Pew Trusts cites an important decline in “the availability of prescription painkillers. Even as overdose deaths spiraled over the last five years, the rate of prescribed opioid consumption began to decline.” However, according to that same report the death rate is still higher than it was 10 years ago.

The decline in the use (and abuse) of prescription painkillers can be attributed to a national medical emergency declared by President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE last October. It could also be professionals engaging in more responsible prescribing practices thanks to new Center for Disease Control prescribing guidelines put into place under President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump's intervention on military justice system was lawful and proper The mullahs seek to control uncontrolled chaos Poll: Majority of Democrats thinks Obama was better president than Washington MORE

However, the overall opioid crisis isn’t over.

The CDC estimates that overdose deaths involving “synthetic” opioids have risen sharply and are likely to blame for the spike in opioid deaths.

The suspicion that this dangerous substance is being trucked across the border and into our neighborhoods is not just election-year hysteria, nor urban myth.

In just the first five months of 2018, customs officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents seized 1,060 pounds of Fentanyl.

In April 2018, state troopers in Nebraska seized a record-breaking 118 pounds of fentanyl from a tractor-trailer during a routine traffic stop. That staggering amount of fentanyl contains enough lethal doses to kill more than 26 million people.

In the border state of Arizona, the DEA seized 70,000 counterfeit pills in 2017 alone. Tempe police seized 30,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills from the Sinaloa cartel. The drugs were realistic enough to be called "pretty good knockoffs" of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the original prescription drug manufacturer.

The “Mexican Oxy” knock-off pills made by drug cartels in Mexico are stamped to look like a legitimate prescription drug but are actually filled with heroin and/or Fentanyl.

The drugs are dangerous not only for those who consume them, but also law enforcement that come in contact with them. In August 2018 seven Connecticut police officers were exposed to fentanyl during a drug raid, with at least two officers hospitalized after the exposure. In July 2018, two Philadelphia police officers overdosed on fentanyl while conducting a drug investigation, leading to their hospitalization.

In Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia — all key states up for grabs this election cycle —overdose deaths have increased by more than 17 percent in each state. In New Jersey — another state with a hotly contested Senate seat — deaths rose 27 percent.

Those states may not be “border states” in the conventional sense, but their residents are being deeply affected by illegal drugs streaming across the border. 

Given the fact that these drugs are now the leading cause of death in America —outnumbering peak annual HIV-related deaths, car crash-related deaths and gun-related deaths — if that does not qualify as a crisis to Congress members, I don’t know what will. 

Jen Kerns has served as a GOP strategist and writer for the U.S. presidential debates for FOX News. She previously served as communications director and spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, the Colorado Recalls over gun control and the Prop. 8 battle over marriage which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.