Analysis

Judgment Matters: As Biden Obsesses Over Omicron, Fentanyl Overdoses Surge

DailyWire.com

A week before Christmas, President Joe Biden issued a stern and apocalyptic warning to the great unvaccinated masses: “We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated — for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm.” Thus far, the Omicron variant has almost universally produced mild or asymptomatic cases. Meanwhile, a record-high pandemic of overdose deaths has swept across America, largely without comment from the Biden administration — perhaps because the president’s policies have worsened the death toll.

From May 2020 to May 2021, America reached a deadly milestone: 100,255 Americans died of drug overdoses, the first time more than 100,000 people died in such a way. By comparison, there were about half as many overdose deaths (57,252) in May 2016. Much of the interim increase is driven by the stream of fentanyl flooding across America’s uncontrolled southern border. Fentanyl or other synthetic opioids are involved in 64% of all overdoses, according to the CDC. Over the same period, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized twice as much fentanyl — which is between 80 and 100 times stronger than morphine — than it did last year.

An amount as small as two milligrams of fentanyl could cause a deadly overdose. The 11,201 pounds of fentanyl seized by CBP agents in Fiscal Year 2021 could kill 2.5 billion people — or approximately one-third of the 7.9 billion people on planet Earth. Agents have seized yet another 2,158 pounds of fentanyl since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022, which began in October — more than enough to kill every single American citizen.

It comes as little surprise that in the last year, fentanyl has exceeded traffic accidents and suicides as the leading killerof young people between the ages of 18 and 45, according to an analysis of CDC data performed by the nonprofit group Families Against Fentanyl. A total of 78,795 people died from fentanyl overdoses in two years, the group reported: 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021.

Many of those deaths have come from a new source: counterfeit prescription drugs laced with fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) released its first public safety alert in six years this September to warn about the problem. The DEA has seized 20.4 million fentanyl-laced, imitation prescription pills so far this year, reporting that “32 cases [of fentanyl-laced prescription pills] have direct ties to the major Mexican drug networks that are mass-producing and distributing fentanyl.”

“Mexican criminal drug networks are harnessing the perfect drug trafficking tool: social media applications that are available on every smartphone,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram in a press release. “They are using these platforms to flood our country with fentanyl. The ease with which drug dealers can operate on social media and other popular smartphone apps is fueling our [n]ation’s unprecedented overdose epidemic.”

Yet the problem goes well beyond prescription drugs. This year, officials have discovered traces of fentanyl in a growing number of narcotics — including heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. Between July and November, 39 people in the state of Connecticut overdosed from marijuana that secretly contained tiny specks of fentanyl. While marijuana carries mental and physical health risks, overdose was virtually unheard of, until the narcotic is married to fentanyl.

Fentanyl’s journey to America begins in its country of origin — frequently China or India — then comes to Mexico, where transnational criminal gangs assemble it into pills or courier it across the border in powder form. A border wall or stricter border enforcement would curtail some of the surge, but President Biden has made it substantially easier for illegal cargo, and illegal aliens, to cross the border.

Border Patrol agents encountered a record-breaking 1,734,686 illegal immigrants at the southern border during Fiscal year 2021 — and another 173,620 illegal immigrants in November. That’s more than twice as many as the previous November record (78,587 in November 2000). Worse yet, that number does not include 273,112 “gotaways” from January through September 2021, according to data Townhall.com obtained from the CBP from a Freedom of Information Act request. “Those numbers are bulls**t — they are way low,” Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of CBP during the Trump administration, told Townhall.com. “By the end of December, it will be 600,000 ‘gotaways.’”

Despite the surge in border crossings, President Biden’s policies cut deportations by 90% over pre-pandemic levels — and that decision carries national consequences. While the fentanyl surge begins at the U.S. border with Mexico, it quickly metastasizes through the entire nation, as transnational drug traffickers pump fentanyl through the nation’s arteries. In all, 45 states experienced more deaths by overdose this year than last year; most seeing double-digit increases. The largest year-on-year increases came in such geographically dispersed states as Vermont (54%), Mississippi (47%), and California (45%).

President Biden responded by issuing a brief statement about overdose deaths in November, and he has moved to classify fentanyl analogues as a Schedule 1 drug — which would mean they have no medical use and it would subject them to stiffer criminal penalties. But, in part at the behest of nearly 100 left-wing groups, he exempted fentanyl analogues from some of the mandatory minimum sentences that apply to similar drugs. “The racially disparate enforcement of drug laws against communities of color will continue under the Biden [drug] Proposal,” wrote the groups, including the Drug Policy Alliance, in a letter to congressional leaders in October. The DPA, which heavily promoted drug decriminalization with funding from George Soros, complained that jailing drug dealers might leave inmates without a job. “[E]ven if individuals receive shorter sentences than the mandatory minimum under Biden’s proposal, they will still be imprisoned and risk being trapped in a vicious cycle of incarceration which impacts an individual’s access to housing, education, employment, health services, food assistance programs and more,” the letter said.

Critics said the president’s capitulation to left-wing pressure endangers Americans nationwide. “Under the plan, penalties for fentanyl analogue offenses could be far more lenient than in previous years, and sentenced markedly differently than other dangerous drugs at a time when overdoses are surging,” said a press release from Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)’s office. “Rather than curbing trafficking of fentanyl analogues, such a policy could have the opposite effect: encouraging the use of fentanyl analogues over other, less-deadly substances that carry steeper penalties.”

Those who have suffered the most say the flow of fentanyl must end before more Americans mourn an empty seat at their Christmas table. “It is widely known that illicit fentanyl is driving the massive spike in drug-related deaths,” saidJames Rauh, founder of Families Against Fentanyl. “A new approach to this catastrophe is needed.”

That new approach would require closing America’s borders, standing up to well-funded left-wing interest groups, and imprisoning social pariahs regardless of baseless cries of “institutional racism.” At a minimum, a president whose son has publicly struggled with addiction might give the concerns of similarly situated blue-collar Americans a bit more concern. Presidential wisdom often hinges on which issues to focus on and which ones to minimize. That may explain why America is in such dire trouble during the presidency of Joe Biden, who seems addicted to poor judgment.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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