The common number for annual fentanyl deaths in the U.S. Is 100,000 – an impressive figure but still an abstraction that may not sink in. At a recent U.S. Congressional hearing, Rebecca Kiessling of Rochester Hills, Michigan, put flesh on these numbers by describing how her two sons Caleb, 20, and Kyler, 18, died of fentanyl that had been laced into the painkiller Percocet. They like many others, didn’t realize they were killing themselves. There was no warning of the mixture from the drug dealer.
Kiessling complained that the criminal received only an eight to fifteen year prison sentence for ending the lives of her sons. When is this crisis going to be taken seriously? she asked. The dead bodies from fentanyl are piling up in funeral homes. “If Chinese troops lined up along our border with weapons aimed at our people, you damn well would do something about it. A Chinese balloon comes across our country, no one dies but everyone is freaked out. This is war. Act on it.”
Members of congress who listened appeared concerned, but action is unlikely. The problem has been around for many years with little being done. The wealthy donors who keep the politicians in office don’t seem interested, and some may have connections to the enormously lucrative drug trade. The media displays the same indifference at a time when newspapers are in serious financial trouble. The Mexican drug cartels are on hand to provide relief for one and all. At an Arizona state senate hearing, an investigator for the Harris/Thaler law firm offered 120 documents to show that forty public officials in Arizona had been bribed by the powerful Sinaloa cartel in Mexico anxious to keep the U.S. border open for its drugs. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed disbelief and outrage. Sinaloa didn’t comment.
The aftermath of Kiessling’s testimony was not encouraging. Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said that the two boys might still be alive if President Bader had secured the border and stopped the flow of drug into the U.S. In turn, the President denied that he was responsible for the deaths. “That fentanyl they took came during the last (Trump) administration,” he said with something of a chuckle. “How dare you!” replied Kiessling. “Almost every Democrat on the committee offered their condolences You don’t even do that. You have to mock my pain.”
The emotional exchange points up the severity of the problem. The genuine solution is for Americans to forgo their drugs, which would also eliminate the drug cartels. They sell almost entirely to the U .S. which alone keeps them in business. Without drugs their other crimes – extorting migrants to the U.S, sex trafficking, kidnapping – would hardly suffice. And their reach is increasing. They control with armed guards many thousands of illegal marijuana farms in California, Oregon and Wisconsin that undercut legitimate American growers and add to their astonishing profits. We don’t know how much they’re involved in local elections and government, but there are signs pointing to it. You took half of Mexico in the 1840’s war, they might say. Now we are taking it back in our own way.