It’s one of the most popular talking points against building a border wall: Plenty of drugs are smuggled up through Mexico, but most of them, opponents say, come through ports of entry.
This seems to be backed up by the Drug Enforcement Agency: “A small percentage of all heroin seized by (Customs and Border Protection agents) along the land border was between Ports of Entry,” the DEA’s 2018 Drug Threat Assessment read.
“The majority of the (heroin) flow is through (private vehicles) entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods.”
That seems to contradict President Donald Trump’s own words. “We have tremendous amounts of drugs flowing into our country, much of it coming from the southern border,” Trump said during Rose Garden remarks in February, according to The Associated Press.
“When you look and when you listen to politicians — in particular, certain Democrats — they say it all comes through the port of entry. It’s wrong. It’s wrong. It’s just a lie. It’s all a lie,” he added.
However, the president isn’t necessarily wrong here — at least according to newly reported government data.
“U.S. Border Patrol, which works in the unfenced or minimally protected space between crossings, seized nearly 480,000 pounds of drugs on the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2018,” the Examiner reported Friday.
“Drug seizures that occur at ports of entry are documented under Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations statistics. Its four field offices on the southern border — El Paso, Texas; Laredo, Texas; Tucson, Ariz.; and San Diego — seized 370,000 pounds of drugs in the 2018 fiscal year.”
There is a caveat to this, which is that marijuana made up the bulk of the seizures effected by the Border Patrol. Of the 480,000 pounds seized, 461,000 of them were marijuana.
Meanwhile, of the 553,000 pounds of illegal drugs seized at both points of entry and the coasts, 300,000 pounds were marijuana, the Examiner said.
This means more dangerous drugs — methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin, among others — were picked up there. Those drugs are also generally more powerful by weight than marijuana.
Nevertheless, the idea that the border wall would be completely ineffectual against drugs isn’t necessarily borne out by the statistics.
Trump has made the opioid crisis one of his major talking points in favor of the wall. “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl,” Trump said in January.
“Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”
OK, the Democrats have said — then increase security at points of entry. And once you do that, where does the drug smuggling go to?
The Sinaloa Cartel isn’t just going to throw their hands up in the air and shift their business model to selling worthless trinkets to tourists.
Like with any form of illegal activity along the border, drug smugglers are going to use the path of least resistance to get their wares into the United States — and one of the most attractive paths is going to become the unsecured areas along our southern border.
In fact, it already is one of the most attractive paths. There’s plenty of drug smuggling going on there right now, as the numbers show.
Without a wall, those numbers are only going to increase, no matter how much security you put at ports of entry.
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