Nonprofit Executive Warns That Fentanyl Also Comes Into The U.S. From Canada

Photography by Jaqueline Martin / AP

This editorial by Maria Espinoza was published in Washington Examiner on April 20, 2018. Maria Espinoza is the National Director of the Remembrance Project, a nonprofit organization.

Death by Canadian fentanyl: Northern border security is no joke, either

Americans are well aware and focused on the need to protect our Southern border. But little thought has been given to the need to protect the border with Canada.

Their citizens are seen as educated, polite, and mostly English-speaking. Their poorest citizens aren't marching defiantly toward our border in a giant invasion of “caravans" aided and abetted by their national government. But that doesn't mean the border to our north can't pose its own specific type of deadly risk.

An enormous, robust, and illegal opioid drug supply is streaming across our border with Canada, killing and poisoning tens of thousands of our citizens each year. Just last month, Canadian authorities busted a huge smuggling ring headquartered in Calgary that was producing an astonishing amount of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs — 120,000 pills a day. That’s nearly 160 million pills a year from just one source!

Canada has become a pipeline for the smuggling of Canadian fentanyl, a drug that is intentionally made to look identical to the legal Oxycodone, and which is more than 100 times more potent than morphine. Responsible for more than 50 percent of the more than 20,000 deaths of Americans from opioid-related drugs in 2016, fentanyl has become a major killer in the U.S. And 2018 will undoubtedly prove much worse. Sadly, Congress and its policy leaders in Washington remain silent, totally unconcerned, refusing to hold the Canadian government responsible, while thousands more Americans die each year.

Currently, Congress is debating whether to legalize the importation of modified or newly reformulated pharmaceutical drugs. They would soon be released upon an unsuspecting U.S. population under the guise of affordable prescriptions from abroad, but in many cases they could in fact be deadly counterfeits.

This is a nightmarish idea, but Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has refused to drop his bill that would legalize the purchase of foreign drugs from across the border. His bill would open the floodgates to prescription drug abuse and illegal sales within our already severely opioid-ravaged communities. And his bill bears the stamp of approval from a number of Democratic senators from opioid-ravaged states, such as Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Law enforcement officials have warned that a sudden deluge of drug imports would overwhelm enforcement efforts, providing a huge new distribution channel in which to hide illegal goods. Thus far, their concerns have been mostly ignored, not only in Congress, but in the media, even as the opioid epidemic ravages America.

President Trump has made clear he cares drugs claim 64,000 American lives annually; that’s 175 people per day and one every 8 minutes. Just as the open Southern border policies of prior administrations have killed and victimized our citizens, so can they also exacerbate other major problems facing America across its Northern border. By allowing this lawlessness to go on, we are unwittingly acquiescing to thousands of American lives being ruthlessly and unnecessarily stolen each and every year.

The solution lies with us. The economic effects of importing “cheaper” drugs isn't the only issue anymore. Opening the foreign drug floodgates now means providing criminals the opportunity to dramatically increase the quantities of counterfeit prescription drugs that cross the border into our towns, destroying countless lives in the process.

America has two borders that need protecting.