Taxpayers Against Illicit Opioids is committed to fighting back against the illegal drugs entering our country and driving the growing opioid addiction epidemic, straining our local, state and federal budgets.
“Opioid” is the term used to encompass the entire family of opiates, or drugs derived from opium. Opioids are used by healthcare providers for controlled pain management. There are three main kinds of opioids, including:
alkaloids that occur in plants such as the opium poppy. Natural opiates include morphine, codeine, and thebaine.
drugs manufactured in labs from natural opiates. Semi-synthetic opioids include hydromorphone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone as well as heroin.
drugs that are completely man-made, including fentanyl and methadone. Skyrocketing levels of misuse and addiction to opioid drugs of all kinds have created a national crisis that affects the public health, social structure, and economic welfare of the country. In October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis in America a “public health emergency.”
The crackdown on prescription drugs had led to a subsequent rise in illegal opioid alternatives. These illegal drugs are being trafficked into the U.S. by criminal smugglers primarily from Mexico and China. Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel, the criminal enterprise once led by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is a driving force in the surge in fentanyl crossing U.S. borders.
The opioid epidemic and the addiction crisis across America have overwhelmed local and state budgets. In communities across the country, resources are being stretched to the limit – and often beyond – for additional needs such as expanded law enforcement, increased medical care and attention, and more foster care facilities and child protection services. Such funding is supplied by you, the American taxpayer.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid and Schedule II narcotic, which means it is a felony to sell or use the drug without a prescription. It is about 100 times more potent than morphine, and 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is legally manufactured and distributed in the United States for its FDA-approved use in pain relief and anesthesia. However, fentanyl can also be illegally manufactured and criminally obtained for illicit use, and it is often mixed into counterfeit pills made to look like legitimate prescription drugs.
Yes. The tiniest amount of illicit fentanyl is deadly. Only two milligrams, or about four grains of salt, can kill. Its chemical cousin, carfentanil, is even more deadly – just a single grain can kill. This lethality has caused overdose deaths from fentanyl to double from 2015 to 2016. Given that the smallest trace can kill, recent drug busts are even more alarming and highlight the huge nature of the illicit opioid problem in America. For example, in February 2018, 33 pounds of fentanyl was seized in Boston by federal agents and police. That was enough to kill 7 million people, or more than the entire population of Massachusetts.
China is the major source of global fentanyl production, but Chinese drug manufacturers are “weakly regulated and poorly monitored.” * Although there is a government ban on 23 fentanyl analogues, underground Chinese labs operate prolifically, where anyone with a working knowledge of chemistry can easily tweak the fentanyl molecule. This tweaking creates new, unregulated variants (some of them even more potent than the original), which openly flout bans and escape regulation. These drugs are then shipped daily to Mexico, Canada, and then across US borders. Mexican cartels act as “the primary conduit” * for purchasing, smuggling, and distributing Chinese fentanyl in the US.
Without greater scrutiny from postal carriers, shipments travel across the world without being apprehended. It is too easy to buy fentanyl from China – a few clicks from an online marketplace and the products are shipped via international mail, usually through a chain of forwarding address or in mislabeled shipments, which makes it harder to track and identify the items. In fact, the process is so under-regulated that “many Chinese narcotic distributors will guarantee customers a second shipment if the first is seized by law enforcement.” * A Senate report in 2018 identified 500 online transactions with $766 million involving illegal fentanyl from China.
The danger of fentanyl isn’t just to users – it can be a threat to anyone who comes in contact with it, meaning it is especially dangerous to public health workers, first responders, and law enforcement. The smallest amount of the drug is deadly, and it can be inhaled or absorbed through contact with skin. In May 2017, an Ohio police officer overdosed from merely brushing fentanyl residue off his uniform, having been involved in a drug bust earlier in the day. Such deadly toxicity means that these drugs could have terrorist applications as weapons of mass destruction, especially by less profit-minded individuals such as rogue nations and terrorist groups.
The opioid crisis threatens all Americans. Greater public attention must be paid to foreign enemies such as Mexican drug cartels and Chinese fentanyl smugglers. The current administration and law-makers have an opportunity to lead and take responsibility for ensuring our country’s health and safety. Law-makers have demonstrated interest in the opioid epidemic but has so far overlooked a critical component of the crisis: illegally manufactured and criminally obtained drugs. Law-makers should investigate this pressing issue with all haste and increase public awareness of these important issues. We must take action now to combat opioid addiction today.
All hard-working American taxpayers are affected by this drug epidemic – whether they realize it or not. The vast costs of this crisis are being funded by ordinary Americans. Costs like businesses losing money on labor productivity from people battling illicit opioid addiction missing work, ultimately jeopardizes the entire local economy. Federal and state budgets are also being strained from lost tax revenue while at the same time needing increased funding for extra law enforcement and health services to prevent overdose fatalities, thus resulting in budget shortfalls and higher taxes. The cost of the crisis is estimated to have already exceeded a whopping $1 trillion – with an additional estimated $500 billion needed by 2020. People of all ages, races, and backgrounds are affected by this epidemic, and unfortunately, it’s ravaging America’s next generation. More young people are being affected as the epidemic shifts to illicit drugs like fentanyl being trafficked in from Mexico and China – this has been identified as one of the key reasons for the steep increase in costs. It is imperative that we spread awareness of how illegally manufactured and criminally obtained drugs are harming U.S. citizens, increasing taxes and budget deficits, and threatening America’s future.