A Wall Won’t Stop This

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

During the opening moments of yesterday's House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the opioid epidemic, Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) said fentanyl is being smuggled across the Mexican border through extraordinary means.

Most of the fentanyl is being smuggled from Mexico into the country "through the porous border" by foot, by car, and even by "launching it through catapults and drones into the U.S.," Murphy said.

Many of the people who died of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania didn't even realize they were ingesting the powerful painkiller, which is 50 times more potent than heroin, he said.

"Users don't even know the fentanyl is in the heroin," he said. "We are flying blind."

This is not an outlandish claim. Catapults and other improvised devices have been used to smuggle items across the border, but Trump's fantasy border wall will do nothing to stop any of it. Trump's wall will only spur further innovation in the field of smuggling.

And yet Trump and has allies have already used drugs, and the opioid epidemic specifically, as a justification for building a wall. Congressmen like Tim Murphy will also almost certainly point toward the opioid crisis if they cast a vote to fund the wall.

If anti-drone countermeasures and netting designed to catch catapult-launched parcels are added to the list of requirements for Trump's pretty wall, you can also add another billion dollars to the cost.

Actually, under the guidelines released by Customs and Border Patrol, catapults and drones may not even be necessary. The guidelines say the wall must be difficult to climb without a ladder so, if you have a ladder, that may be enough.

  • Christopher Foxx

    And yet Trump and has allies have already used drugs, and the opioid epidemic specifically, as a justification for building a wall.

    Trump and his allies would use the fact that Wednesday starts with a “W” as justification for building a wall.

    They have no actual justification for it for will grab anything that comes along as say “Yeah, that there. That’s why we need a wall!”

  • muselet

    Asked why the fentanyl tsunami is hitting America now, Louis Milione of the Drug Enforcement Administration said it’s because the drug cartels that smuggle cocaine and heroin into America have found gold in the easily-manufactured pain killer.

    “China is the primary source,” said Milione, who runs the Diversion Control Division.

    Between 170,000 to 400,000 companies in China manufacture synthetic drugs like fentanyl but the U.S. has only recently began talking with Beijing about monitoring them, said William Brownfield of the State Department.

    Fentanyl is cheap to make, legal to sell (it’s Schedule II, so everyone has to jump through legal hoops, but it’s available) and medically useful. There aren’t enough choke points to make banning it practical.

    Expanding the availability of drug treatment programs would seem to be a big part of the solution, as would supporting initiatives in Mexico and Canada to combat drug smuggling and convincing China to keep an eye on its pharmaceutical industry. However, the second is an unmanly exercise of soft power, and the first is nothing but a gigantic loophole for undeserving folks to get a freebie from Uncle Sugar:

    With President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress pushing to replace the Affordable Care Act with a bill that makes deep cuts in Medicaid, the Democrats on the [House Energy and Commerce Committee] took turns warning that programs that treat people for opioid addiction could be gutted.


    Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Virginia Republican, pushed back. He noted that most of the fentanyl overdose deaths have happened in states like Ohio that opted to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

    “I don’t think Obamacare caused opioid abuse,” he added. But “it’s irrelevant to our discussion here.”

    [limks omitted]

    I wonder who ties his shoes for him.

    “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible and wrong.” –HL Mencken

    The likes of Tim Murphy and Morgan Griffith would vote in a heartbeat to build a border wall—pretty or not—and equip CBP and ICE with tanks and MANPADS, but never in a million years to mollycoddle weak-willed dirtbags who get themselves addicted.

    War on Drugs II. It’s a neat, plausible solution, and my five bucks says it’s coming soon to a neighborhood near you.


    • JMAshby

      War on Drugs II. It’s a neat, plausible solution, and my five bucks says it’s coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

      If I’m skeptical, it’s because there’s so much legit money involved. Unlike other highly trafficked drugs, Fentanyl, as you pointed out, is legal.

      Fighting it would require a massive regulatory crackdown that Republicans aren’t going to go for.

      • muselet

        I’m not anticipating a regulatory crackdown. That would be an example of outlandish governmental overreach.

        No, I’m anticipating a crackdown on users and low-level dealers, just like in the War on Drugs I. Lots of DEA raids, get-tough laws with double-digit minimum sentences for posession, civil forfeiture, more drug testing of everyone, that sort of thing.

        Rs get off on making other people’s lives more unpleasant and opioid addiction is an opportunity they won’t be able to pass up.