AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
With the country recently surpassing a grisly milestone in drug-related overdose deaths, former President Donald Trump suggested last Friday that the United States should consider the death penalty for drug dealers caught smuggling deadly narcotics into the country. The remarks immediately sparked outrage from the left as they pursue a so-called “harm reduction” approach to drug crime, highlighting the growing gulf between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to dealing with the drug overdose and addiction crisis.
Trump’s comments came during a campaign stop in Nevada, where Attorney General Adam Laxalt is vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo is aiming to upset incumbent Democrat Governor Steve Sisolak. During the event, Trump blasted Sisolak for “letting your state go to hell.”
“If you look at countries all throughout the world,” Trump said, “the only ones that don’t have a drug problem are those that institute the death penalty for drug dealers. They’re the only ones.”
Trump’s comments come just weeks after the CDC announced that more Americans died last year from drug-related overdoses than at any point in history, with the figure topping 100,000 for the first time ever. While all drug-related deaths were up from 2020, a significant number were caused by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids – most of which have flowed across the U.S.-Mexico border along with the millions of illegal aliens entering the country as a result of the Biden administration’s border policy.
In recent years, underground drug labs have begun outsourcing precursor ingredients used in the production of fentanyl to countries like Mexico and India, where the illegal drugs can be more efficiently produced and distributed across the world. As the number of migrants entering the United States illegally has surged throughout Joe Biden’s first two years in office, Border Patrol officials have been overwhelmed, allowing drug cartels to once again begin smuggling massive quantities of illicit substances into the country.
While a significant amount of fentanyl is being indirectly smuggled from China into America via mailing services, the overwhelming majority is coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. Just this month, Mexican Security Forces seized a record 1,196 pounds of fentanyl in a single drug bust. But border officials believe that confiscated drugs are only a small fraction of the amount that makes it into American communities.
Despite the alarming severity of this crisis, liberal politicians have continued to take a soft approach to deadly drug crime. In California recently, two drug traffickers arrested with 150,000 fentanyl pills were released after just a few days in prison. In New York, two more smugglers were caught moving $1.2 million worth of meth across the state, but were also released.
Unsurprisingly, the drug problem has become so bad in many cities that their Democrat leadership has given up on prosecuting drug use altogether, instead pursuing so-called “safe use” and “harm reduction” strategies. In New York City, the health department has launched a drug de-stigmatization campaign called “Let’s Talk Fentanyl,” in addition to opening so-called “supervised injection sites” where drug use is permitted. The campaign includes a series of ads running across the city that say things like, “Don’t be ashamed you are using, be empowered that you are using safely.” The ad includes suggestions for drug users such as “avoid using alone and take turns” and “start with a small dose and go slowly.” The campaign has quite predictably drawn significant controversy, not least because it seems to imply that there is a “safe” way to use drugs that are inherently unsafe, highly addictive, and frequently deadly.
Similar strategies have been deployed in other liberal cities as well. Activists in Philadelphia have continued to push for “safe injection sites” of their own. In San Francisco, recently-recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin had permitted open-air drug markets to operate with impunity, calling public drug use a “victimless” crime.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has also worked to end Trump-era border security measures, threatening to worsen the opioid crisis even further. By terminating Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy and pushing to rescind Title 42, Biden will likely make it easier for drug cartels to sneak even more of their deadly merchandise into the United States.
According to a new study by Stanford University and the Lancet medical journal, U.S. opioid deaths will reach 1.22 million this decade if nothing more is done to address the problem. If Democrats remain in power and continue to pursue the policies they have for the past two years, those numbers could be even worse. For the millions of Americans affected by this crisis, a return to Republican leadership on the border and on combatting crime will likely be the best – and perhaps only – solution.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.