DEA Warns of More Fentanyl Deaths Ahead of Border Surge

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) warned federal, state and local law enforcement agencies this week of a coming nationwide spike in fentanyl-related overdose deaths ahead of next month’s lifting of Title 42 border restrictions.

The Trump administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), implemented the restrictions in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their immediate goal was to protect Americans from infected migrants. The rule provided Border Patrol agents with an effective tool to combat what is already a historic surge in border crossings.

Fentanyl, prescribed to treat severe pain, is so powerful that a small amount can meet a large demand, meaning it is highly profitable for smugglers and dealers who can get it across the border. An estimated 100,000 Americans overdosed and died in a recent 12-month period, mostly from fentanyl and similar drugs.

Mexican drug cartels are even manufacturing and labeling the drug to look like other, less potent medications. This often results in unsuspecting users misjudging their doses and the effects, often leading to death.

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz says that just since October 1, 2021, the agency has had nearly one million encounters with persons attempting to illegally cross the border. For 12 months in a row, agents had over 150,000 encounters at the southern border, setting new records eight times.

The federal government says Mexico has replaced China as the “dominant source” of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids entering the country. Using precursors largely obtained from China, Mexican producers in illegal labs send the drug into the U.S. in packages, vehicles, and smuggled on persons.

Arizona, along with non-border states Missouri and Louisiana, filed suit this week against the federal government to avert lifting Title 42 in May. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says the state’s border with Mexico is enduring “the worst border crisis in this country’s history” and lauds Title 42 as a critical tool for stemming the influx.

Missouri, along with Texas, has also filed suit to force the revival of the Migrant Protections Protocols program, commonly known as “Remain in Mexico.”

The Biden administration is making decisions from the White House that have dire consequences for the Americans who have to live with them. Removing an effective weapon against fentanyl smuggling can only have deadly results, and that will not be a surprise to anyone.