Opioid addiction kills as many as 200 Americans a day; the north country is not immune to this tragedy. We all feel “something must be done,” which leads to asking, “What is being done?” It turns out the answer is “Quite a bit.”
More fentanyl has been seized and more arrests have occurred in the last two years by the Biden administration’s Department of Homeland Security than in the previous five years; the DHS reports border seizures of fentanyl are up 400% since September 2019. At least 16 major transportation methods have been identified, including such unusual ones as submersible vessels. New inspection and detection equipment, as well as new labs at ports of entry, have aided in this remarkable increase in seizures.
Rather than focusing merely on individual traffickers, at least seven federal departments and offices are coordinating efforts to identify and disrupt this scourge’s sources and distribution networks, with the State Department also enlisting international coordination. Even “pill presser” tools are confiscated to disrupt production.
The Drug Enforcement Agency administrator called fentanyl our “deadliest drug threat” ever and explained all illegal fentanyl is coming from two Mexican cartels with the Sinaloa, operating in every U.S. state and across 47 countries, being predominant.
Sinoloa was once run by the notorious Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, imprisoned by the Trump administration in 2019. The DEA administrator said Guzman’s four sons have now made their father’s “global drug trafficking empire … more ruthless, more violent [and] more deadly” by spreading a new poison, fentanyl.
One of the sons, Ovidio, has been arrested and is facing charges as are seven others in separate arrests as a result of international cooperation initiated by the U.S. Department of State. Charges remain against 20 others still at large, and the State Department has increased the reward money offered as an incentive.
Fentanyl is made from synthetic chemicals sourced by the cartels from two companies in China. When talks with Chinese counterparts faltered, the Treasury Department imposed painful sanctions against these companies. And the State Department enlisted international pressure to stop the chemicals’ exportation knowing that it hurts the world, not just the United States.
International sanctions have devastated the Russian economy over its illegal invasion of Ukrkaine, and the actions of both the Treasury and State departments should not be underestimated.
The St. Lawrence County Democrats commend the Biden administration for competently addressing one of the most urgent issues of our time.
The writers are chair and first vice chair, respectively, of the St. Lawrence County Democratic Committee.
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