By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Whatchamacolumn: America must stop trilateral drug trade

Americans were shocked last week when a 1-year-old child died from exposure to fentanyl kept under a nap mat at a New York City nursery. Investigators found a kilo (2.2 pounds) of fentanyl, enough to produce 1 to 1.5 million fentanyl-laced pills.

It shouldn’t have been a shock; the real scandal is the totality of today’s chemical version of the triangular slave trade.

Precursor chemicals are shipped from China to Mexico, where drug cartels manufacture synthetic opioids that are smuggled into the United States along with more than 200,000 monthly migrants. The opioids are gobbled up by a drug-riddled American population, causing nearly 70 percent of our more than 110,000 annual drug-overdose deaths.

In exchange, America provides the arms needed by the drug cartels for protection from authorities.

Most of those fake Oxycodone, Xanax and Adderall pills are manufactured fentanyls; 60 percent of those analyzed by the Drug Enforcement Administration contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, up from 40 percent two years ago.

In 2022, the DEA seized more than 58.4 million fentanyl-laced fake pills and more than 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder, equivalent to nearly 400 million lethal doses. In 2023, DEA seizures so far have exceeded 55 million pills and 9,000 pounds of fentanyl powder.

About those arms: Each year the United States manufactures between 7 and 9 million guns, added to an estimated 400 million guns nationwide. We perpetuate policies that make the most lethal hand-held weapons of mass destruction infinitely accessible to Mexican drug cartel smugglers, thus fortifying a criminal army that terrorizes Mexico and would be difficult to dislodge even with a military invasion.

More and more American voices, with or without invasion of Mexico, are calling for all-out warfare against the trilateral drug trade, perhaps strategically using a portion of military funding now going to Ukraine.

Our Department of Homeland Security, through interagency teams and shared efforts with Mexico and others, works feverishly to prevent fentanyl from entering the country. A bill in Congress would allow foreign states to be sued in U.S. court for injuries caused by fentanyl trafficking. Public information efforts warn Americans against taking illicit, unprescribed opioids that can be laced with fentanyl.

It’s not enough.

The painful facts remain: We are not fully committed to ending this drug plague; we produce and allow mass distribution of weapons that protect criminals who are killing us at the rate of a million per decade; we allow our politicians to hide behind frivolous squabbles while avoiding what needs to be done for America.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.


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