Criminal organizations are taking advantage of the Biden administration’s weak border policies by smuggling countless illegal aliens into the United States. Subsequently, the current border crisis has appropriately put unlawful migration into the spotlight. However, despite similar increases in activity, collaborations between organized crime groups to smuggle deadly drugs into the country are not receiving the same volume of media or policy attention.
On July 13, the Washington Examiner reported that Chinese money launderers and fentanyl manufactures have partnered with Mexican drug cartels to smuggle fentanyl into the U.S.
Additives used to create fentanyl are sent from China to Mexico. From that point, drug cartels transport the illicit drug across the southern border, eventually delivering it to street gangs for distribution throughout United States’ interior.
While drug trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border is nothing new, the increasing seizures of fentanyl by border authorities should warrant concern. As of May, Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection have seized 7,450 pounds of fentanyl at the southern border. With only four months remaining in FY 2021, it has already surpassed the fentanyl seizure totals of the past three years.
This is exacerbating the opioid epidemic. Fentanyl claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year. In 2019, more than 36,000 people died in the U.S. from fentanyl overdoses – a 16 percent increase from 2018. Last year, drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 30 percent in the U.S. The availability of fentanyl was the primary culprit for this rise in substance fatalities.
According to the 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment, fentanyl has saturated the southern border, despite coronavirus restrictions. Moreover, Mexican transnational criminal organizations have directed drug couriers to transport fentanyl across remote and exposed areas along the Southwest border. Smugglers also use cross-border tunnels that begin in Mexico and lead to the United States. Now, after President Biden halted all border wall construction, it has been reported that cartels are using temporary roads made for construction efforts as superhighways to smuggle illicit drugs into the country.
This alarming information should prompt the Biden administration to regain control of the border crisis. The first steps toward doing this must include resuming the construction of barriers along the Southwest border, along with identifying then destroying the tunnel systems that facilitate unlawful entry into the U.S.
Additionally, the administration should codify the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Some of the bill’s provisions would impose sanctions on China, Mexico, and other countries that knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers and transnational criminal organizations.
Criminal elements in Mexico and China have proven to be responsible for most of the fentanyl imported to the United States. Securing the southern border is essential to foiling their efforts from harming more Americans. The Biden administration must reverse course on its open borders agenda to keep Americans safe from venomous drugs.