There is a strong drug connection between the flow of illegal drugs coming into the U.S. and our weak southern border that politicians like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others seem to ignore.
That is why I appreciate President Donald Trump putting the issue front and center in the current debate over funding a border wall or barrier.
My views on the matter are informed by over 50 years of serving in law enforcement, including 24 years as Maricopa County Sheriff in the border state of Arizona and over two decades prior to that with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Among my assignments with the DEA was a four-year stint in Mexico City in the early 1970s, where I was the regional director working closely with the Mexican government to stem the flow of illegal drugs crossing the border.
Just before I was promoted to that position, I helped oversee Operation Intercept in 1969, during which we nearly shut down the border in a push to stop the flow of marijuana and other contraband coming into the U.S.
For two weeks we cracked down, bringing border crossings almost to a standstill and backing up traffic all the way to Mexico City it seemed.
The Mexican government got the message that we were serious, and out of that came Operation Cooperation between the United States, Mexico and Canada, addressing the issue of drug trafficking. The three nations ended up doing some great work together during those years.
One myth that I’d like to debunk — which has been espoused by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others during the shutdown — is that if we want to address cross border drug trafficking, walls will not work, and instead we need to focus on the ports of entry.
Democratic politicians arguing against the wall will cite statistics like 90 percent of all drug interdiction at the border happens at the ports of entry.
That really says nothing about the drugs that Border Patrol agents never have the chance to confiscate because they came across the border where there is no wall.
I can’t tell you how many arrests my deputies made of those illegally in our country transporting drugs across the desert.
If anybody doesn’t like the idea of constructing more and better border barriers, I always question them, “What about the drugs?”
The drug crisis could not be clearer.
I predicted three years ago that heroin was coming back strong, and it has, joining with other opioids to ravage the lives of too many of our fellow Americans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, there were over 47,000 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in 2017.
During his Oval Office address on border security last week, President Trump said, “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl.”
He continued, “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.”
That toll is way too high. Obviously, one death is sad, but tens of thousands is a tragedy. This should not be a Republican or Democrat issue.
I truly believe one of the best steps we can take if we want to start addressing the current drug crisis is hit the supply chain hard, and part of that effort means building a strong border wall!
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