The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) just published the 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment that provides an extensive analysis of the drug crisis in the United States.
Here are a few quick “takeaways” published in the report that paint a disconcerting picture:
- In 1999 drug poisoning in the U.S. accounted for 16,849 deaths, while deaths from suicide, homicide, firearms and motor vehicles accounted for more deaths than did drug poisoning.
- In 2009 deaths attributed to drug poisoning moved into first place with 37,004 such fatalities.
- Since 2009 drug poisoning has accounted for more deaths than did the other causes of death, with a sharp upward trend in the number of such fatalities. In 2013, 43,982 deaths were attributed to drug poisoning, in 2014 that number increased to 47,055, in 2015 the number jumped to 52,404 and in 2016 that number had skyrocketed to 63, 632 deaths.
Here are excerpts from the report that are of extreme importance:
Heroin: Heroin use and availability continue to increase in the United States. The occurrence of heroin mixed with fentanyl is also increasing. Mexico remains the primary source of heroin available in the United States according to all available sources of intelligence, including law enforcement investigations and scientific data. Further, significant increases in opium poppy cultivation and heroin production in Mexico allow Mexican TCOs to supply high-purity, low-cost heroin, even as U.S. demand has continued to increase.
Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids: Illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids — primarily sourced from China and Mexico—are now the most lethal category of opioids used in the United States. Traffickers— wittingly or unwittingly— are increasingly selling fentanyl to users without mixing it with any other controlled substances and are also increasingly selling fentanyl in the form of counterfeit prescription pills. Fentanyl suppliers will continue to experiment with new fentanyl-related substances and adjust supplies in attempts to circumvent new regulations imposed by the United States, China, and Mexico.
Cocaine: Cocaine availability and use in the United States have rebounded, in large part due to the significant increases in coca cultivation and cocaine production in Colombia. As a result, past-year cocaine initiates and cocaine-involved overdose deaths are exceeding 2007 benchmark levels. Simultaneously, the increasing presence of fentanyl in the cocaine supply, likely related to the ongoing opioid crisis, is exacerbating the re-merging cocaine threat.
Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine remains prevalent and widely available, with most of the methamphetamine available in the United States being produced in Mexico and smuggled across the Southwest Border (SWB). Domestic production occurs at much lower levels than in Mexico, and seizures of domestic methamphetamine laboratories have declined steadily for many years.
Gangs: National and neighborhood-based street gangs and prison gangs continue to dominate the market for the street-sales and distribution of illicit drugs in their respective territories throughout the country. Struggle for control of these lucrative drug trafficking territories continues to be the largest factor fueling the street-gang violence facing local communities. Meanwhile, some street gangs are working in conjunction with rival gangs in order to increase their drug revenues, while individual members of assorted street gangs have profited by forming relationships with friends and family associated with Mexican cartels.
Clearly our porous borders, particularly the U.S./Mexican border, enable narcotics to flood into America with disastrous results including violent crimes, loss of life, lives ruined by drug addiction, and the impact on families and especially children, and money that finances criminal organizations and terror organizations. As I noted in my recent article Trump Connects the Dots on Dangers of Illegal Immigration, terror organizations such as Iran-sponsored Hezbollah increasingly have been working in close coordination with Latin American drug trafficking organizations to move drugs and aliens, including terrorist sleeper agents, into the United States.
Although I was an INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) officer for my entire federal career, I spent roughly half of my career assigned to work with other law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations into narcotics-related crimes. Consequently my 30-year career with the former INS, the forerunner to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), provided me with an intimate view of the multifaceted immigration system. It also provided me with an insider’s understanding of the drug crisis in the United States.
Back in 1988 I became the first INS agent to be assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division (UID) of the DEA in New York City. For nearly four years I worked in close cooperation with the DEA and numerous other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. I also worked closely with foreign law enforcement agencies of countries such as Israel, Canada, Great Britain and Japan.
While I was assigned to UID I conducted a study of arrest statistics and was startled to find that back then, approximately 60% of the individuals arrested by the DEA Task Force in NYC were identified as “foreign born.”
In 1991, I was promoted to the position of INS Senior Special Agent and was assigned, for the final ten years of my career, to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) where I continue to work with diverse law enforcement agencies to conduct investigations into large-scale drug trafficking organizations from around the world.
The issue of border security has been one of the key issues frequently discussed by the media and by a succession of administrations. For decades efforts to determine border security have been linked to the number of arrests made by the U.S. Border Patrol.
Of course those statistics are not as effective a metric to determine border security as many believe. Arrest statistics generally act as sort of Rorschach test where you could say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
If the Border Patrol arrests more illegal aliens, does it mean that more illegal aliens are attempting to run our borders or that the Border Patrol is becoming more effective at finding and arresting illegal aliens, perhaps because new technology has been brought to bear?
If the Border Patrol arrests fewer illegal aliens, does it mean that fewer aliens have been running our borders or that the smugglers have gotten better at evading the Border Patrol?
Several years ago when I was interviewed by Neil Cavuto on his program at Fox News he attempted to draw conclusions about the level of illegal immigration based on Border Patrol arrests. I told Neil that attempting to use arrest statistics to accurately gauge the number of illegal aliens present in the United States is a bit like taking attendance by asking those not present to raise their hands!
I told Neil that the best and most reliable metric to determine border security is the price and availability of cocaine and heroin since those narcotics are illegal and are not produced in the United States. In point of fact, every gram of those and other such substances are smuggled into the United States and provide graphic and incontrovertible evidence of a failure of border security.
The fact that heroin is as available and as inexpensive as it is provides clear evidence that our borders are as porous as a sieve.
Furthermore, because those substances are smuggled into the United States from foreign countries, the leaders of most of the drug trafficking organizations are foreign nationals who send their workers to the United States to set up shop.
These aliens are often long-time associates they have come to trust and, because their family members remain in their home countries, if they commit transgressions, their relatives will pay a heavy price indeed.
Finally, as drug use has skyrocketed and as the Drug Trafficking Organizations have become more sophisticated and violents and have gained ever more control over the smuggling routes, human trafficking is now often linked to the drug smugglers who often use the aliens they smuggle as “mules”-- beasts of burden who carry drugs on their person when they cross our borders.
Those involved in the drug trade not only violate drug, finance and weapons laws; they violate immigration laws.
Meanwhile politicians from both parties have refused to fund the vital border wall to help protect America and Americans from the influx of illegal aliens and narcotics.
The Democrats have created “Sanctuary Cities” and have unbelievably called for the disbanding of ICE altogether. However, neither political party has ever sought to actually hire enough ICE agents to deter illegal immigration or contribute the sort of resources to such multi-agency task forces as OCDETF or the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), where the unique authorities and tools that our immigration laws can uniquely provide to help investigate and dismantle transnational gangs and international terror organizations.
I addressed the nexus between sanctuary policies and the drug trade in my article, New York City: Hub For The Deadly Drug Trade.
This willful failure of our political elite to bring our immigration laws to bear to protect America and Americans, and to combat transnational gangs and international terrorist organizations, was the focus of my recent article, Sanctuary Country - Immigration failures by design.
It is time for Americans to find true sanctuary in their towns and cities.