- Fentanyl, an extraordinarily potent synthetic opioid, is manufactured in China and then pours across the unsecure U.S. southern border by the Mexican drug cartels.
- The U.S. is experiencing an opioid-fueled public health crisis and fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-45.
- The America First policy to defeat the cartels and stop the flow of lethal fentanyl infiltrating our country begins with securing the border, strengthening law enforcement action against the cartels, boosting domestic educational efforts on drugs, and permanently scheduling fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is an extraordinarily potent drug that is devastating communities across our Nation. One potentially lethal dose of fentanyl is only 2 mg—less than a gram of sugar. But Mexican drug cartels, who obtain the precursor chemicals from China, package fentanyl by the kilogram – about the size of a cantaloupe. A kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill up to 500,000 people (DEA, 2022). As a direct result of the failed border strategy of the Biden Administration, a staggering amount of it is flooding into every American community. In fiscal year 2022, enough fentanyl was caught crossing the border to kill 3.3. billion people – or every American 10 times over (CBP, n.d.).
Fentanyl has recently become known as the “silent killer” because it is frequently being mixed (cut or laced) with other drugs unbeknownst to the buyer. In the U.S., news stories hit the headlines every day announcing another tragic death of a young American who died taking a drug laced with fentanyl. Unsurprisingly, synthetic opioid-deaths (largely driven by fentanyl) surged by over 20% in 2021, killing over 71,000 Americans. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration estimates that 9.5 million Americans abused opioids in 2020—the latest data available from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (SAMHSA, n.d.). Total drug overdose deaths since 1999 have topped 1 million (HSOAC, 2022).
The U.S. is experiencing a public health crisis because of the volume of illicit fentanyl that has made it into our country through the southern border. The fentanyl-related deaths are a tragic illustration that every state is a border state—though too few have drawn that connection. Fentanyl is everywhere and Americans need to be aware of its prevalence and the dangers associated with consuming it, whether intentional or not. Therefore securing the border is the most vital step that must be taken to halt the infiltration of fentanyl into communities. Serious, actionable steps must also be taken for stricter prosecutorial measures to disarm the cartels and their couriers, who are making millions of dollars from fentanyl sales. Additionally, the federal scheduling of fentanyl needs to be revisited and state and local educational efforts on the harrowing dangers of drugs need to be amplified.