The news in Pinal County and Arizona constantly includes reports of people arrested smuggling fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that is 100 times stronger than morphine. And that means it is very deadly.
Cartels are smuggling fentanyl because it is so lucrative, and because of its potency, it is much easier to transport across the Mexican border than marijuana, which is bulkier. While marijuana is gradually being legalized in the United States, a black market still exists. But a loss of part of that market does not mean the cartels go out of business, they merely turn to something far more dangerous. While large amounts of narcotics are intercepted, much is also getting through — to be sold all over the United States.
Federal law enforcement statistics list seizure so far this fiscal year of 112 pounds of fentanyl. If that sounds like a small amount, know that it is enough to kill 25 million people.
The Arizona Republic reports that cartels have focused on recruiting juveniles to bring fentanyl across the border, telling them that they cannot be punished severely if caught. However, they do face serious consequences. Some of that focus is in the Yuma area, especially in its nearby border region.
Efforts have been made to educate students about the consequences they face if caught smuggling drugs. That is important, as is tough law enforcement and imprisonment. Prosecutors and law enforcement sometimes participate in the education part, and that is a good thing.
People make a choice to buy drugs, but opioids are highly addictive and the cartels have much to gain by providing incentives.
A tighter border, such as President Trump is prioritizing, along with education and no tolerance for drug sales are all part of the solution. Contrary to popular myth, not many people are incarcerated for mere drug possession. Trafficking, however, is another matter entirely and should receive no easing of enforcement.