How the US Blew It on Fentanyl

'Washington Post' investigation spreads the blame over multiple administrations
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2022 1:18 PM CST
How the US Blew It on Fentanyl
This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles Field Division, shows some of the seized approximately 1 million fake pills containing fentanyl that were seized when agents served a search warrant, July 5, 2022, at a home in Inglewood, CA.   (Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)

Fentanyl overdoses kill about 196 Americans every day, “the equivalent of a fully loaded Boeing 757-200 crashing and killing everyone on board,” according to the Washington Post, which on Monday published an extensive and damning report on the federal government’s failure to stem the flow of a drug that now represents the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 49. In what one task force agent called a “confluence of paralysis,” the full alphabet soup of federal agencies—from the DEA and DHS to the CDC and HHS—failed not only to address the fentanyl problem but to identify its true roots, such as the fact that Mexican cartels are not only the drug's main traffickers but also the main producers, as opposed to criminal Chinese networks.

When the danger from Mexico became apparent in 2017, DHS focused on a border wall instead of beefing up inspections and screenings at legal crossings. While the Trump administration was responsible for any number of “missteps," the Post spreads blame to the Bush administration, during which “countless Americans became addicted to oxycodone and other prescription opioids while U.S. drug manufacturers, distributors, and chain pharmacies made billions,” as well as the Obama administration, when key drug-monitoring programs were “defunded and dismantled.” The Biden White House hasn’t done much worth reporting, but at least it realizes it’s up against highly sophisticated Mexican cartels with all the experience, resources, and determination to maintain a steady flow of what is arguably the cheapest, deadliest narcotic ever. Read the Post’s report here. (More fentanyl stories.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.