Overwhelmed Border

Unlike the heroin epidemic of the 1960s and 1970s, which was mainly confined to high-population, urban areas, the current surge of that deadly drug is being felt in communities of all sizes. Parkersburg, Marietta, and other Mid-Ohio Valley communities certainly have not been immune to this plague. Here, heroin use has revealed itself in the ways you would expect – an increase in drug-related crime, arrests and, unfortunately, overdose deaths.

And, according to a story in Monday’s Washington Post, there probably won’t be a decrease in the supply of heroin any time soon – at least not from south of the border. According to the Post story, this is due, in part, to the successful decriminalization of marijuana in many parts of the U.S. which has caused the price for Mexican marijuana to plunge.

This should be a good thing, but, now, Mexican farmers, prodded by the powerful cartels, are turning away from growing pot and turning to opium poppies. This is not happening just in Mexico, but is spreading to areas of Central America. In January, Honduran police made their first-ever discovery of a poppy farm in that county – a sophisticated mountain greenhouse as large as a soccer field

This successful agriculture makeover has led to a surge of heroin that is making its way across the U.S. border where it is cut and distributed to an ever-growing number of users. While overwhelmed U.S. border agents did manage to seize 2,162 kilos of heroin last year – up from 367 kilos in 2007 – much more successfully passed through.

Unfortunately, heroin is harder to detect than marijuana. While pot is usually smuggled in backpacks, heroin is often hidden inside fake vehicle panels or placed inside legitimate commercial products coming into the country.

This growing epidemic is also compounded by the decreased emphasis President Barack Obama’s administration has put on border security. Even though Attorney General Eric Holder has warned that heroin is “an urgent and growing public health crisis,” liberals tend to look at the growing Hispanic population as a potential future voting bloc for their party, and do not wish to anger activists on the issue. As such, they put much more emphasis on amnesty rather than on increased border security.

Certainly, the war against heroin will have to be fought on many fronts. But it starts at the border. And while we will never completely stop drugs from entering the country, we must do better than this. Until security becomes the top priority in our border policy, we will continue to deal with the problem of heroin growing like a cancer in our communities.