Editorial

The Enemy Within




The news that potentially fatal doses of heroin laced with fentanyl are deliberately given to users has hit particularly hard as of late, because it happened hereabouts. But law enforcement agents have been reporting on the phenomena for a couple of years now nationwide.

The dealers may want to test the potency, for example, to arrive at the proper mixture, and use addicts as guinea pigs. They may deliberately sell or even give the fatal mixture to users they suspect may someday testify in court against them. This type of dastardly conduct should obviously be punished severely. It is deliberate, premediated murder.

The dealers on the street aren’t the only murderers: the manufacturers and distributors are equally guilty. Just last week 45 pounds of fentanyl was seized in Ohio — enough to kill “the entire population of Ohio many times over,” one official said. Earlier in the year, 254 pounds were seized in Arizona, hidden on a truck near the Mexican border. While the drugs seized were produced illegally, fentanyl is manufactured and approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and most often applied as a slow-release patch.

But only four percent of the drug seized on the street is legal. “The most common distribution medium is via the U.S. Postal Service,” the Treasury Department said in a recent statement. The most frequent origin point: China.

And, yes, the southwest border is “another major conduit for fentanyl.” Customs and Borders Protection agents are woefully undermanned, and even their dogs “were not trained to detect fentanyl at any ports of entry, including in the mail, until 2017.”

Congress has pushed for better control of incoming mail from China but the U.S. Postal Service has pushed back because it doesn’t have the manpower. President Trump ordered packages from China simply sent back if they are suspicious in nature.

But the biggest danger comes from a predictable source. “For years, some drug companies were fined for repeatedly ignoring warnings from the DEA to shut down suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of pills, while they racked up billions of dollars in sales,” the Washington Post reported. These drug companies augment their effort to combat more stringent control by donating “millions of dollars” to elected officials in Washington. It’s a bipartisan effort: Congressmen and senators from both parties split over $9 million in legal donations this year according to OpenSecrets.org.

We all need to come to grips with this sad fact. It’s not one corrupt politician you are railing against and trying to unseat. It’s not your political party trying to do what’s best for the people. It is a corrupt system, and all of them feed from the same trough.