The trend is alarming: sharp increases in illegal drugs flowing northward into the U.S. from Mexico. Since 2011, there has been a 50 percent increase in the volume of heroin seized by border officials, and a 105 percent increase in the volume of methamphetamine.
The drugs that evade detection go on to infect American communities. Two U.S. senators, West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, would like the federal government do more to stem the tide.
Capito, a Republican, and Donnelly, a Democrat, have introduced legislation that would help combat heroin and meth trafficking along the southern border.
“[W]e need to ensure our national drug policy reflects the increase of drugs crossing the U.S.-Mexico border,” said Capito. “We also need to equip our drug and law enforcement officers with the resources they need to fight back against this epidemic.”
The bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection report to Congress on what resources it needs to respond to the increased drug trafficking on the border, whether it be better technology or more personnel.
Washington can then work to give our people on the border what they need to do their jobs more effectively.
In West Virginia and around the country, efforts to combat the drug epidemic are fought on two fronts. First, law enforcement tries to limit the supply of the illegal substances. Other leaders — educators, health workers, parents and policymakers — try to limit the demand.
It’s a two-pronged problem. As long as people are willing to pay for mind-altering substances, criminal enterprises will try to supply them. And the more ubiquitous drugs are in our communities, the harder it is to keep young people from falling prey to them.
As a state, we must continue efforts to limit the demand side of the equation, but there’s only so much we can do about the supply. Some states have tried making pseudoephedrine prescription-only to limit meth production. But those states have seen foreign drug cartels pick up the slack, pushing even more potent forms of meth.
West Virginia law enforcement isn’t equipped to fight Mexican drug cartels. The federal government is. Capito’s bill pushes federal law enforcement in a direction that will aid communities in West Virginia and elsewhere.