Biden, Obrador show more united front on fentanyl fight

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Drug trafficking has remained a top international issue between the United States and Mexico, usually addressed at the Mexico City summit. But there were no announcements of any major deals made between the two countries to combat the illegal flow of drugs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl remains the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-49, and in 2022, several months saw record numbers of fentanyl busts across the country, with the deadly drug mainly coming from across the border from Mexico.

Following the summit, the Biden administration released a fact sheet of “Key Deliverables” for the 2023 North American Leaders’ Summit on Tuesday, only mentioning fentanyl twice in the sheet and merely saying that the two countries will continue sharing information on chemicals used to produce the deadly drug.

In the past, the U.S. has pushed for Mexico to crack down on labs where fentanyl gets made, while Mexico has pushed the U.S. to crack down on guns getting into the hands of cartels.

During a news conference with the leaders on Tuesday, President Joe Biden said that moving forward, there will be a focus on going after the fentanyl production labs and the stash houses where the drug gets stored. 

“We’ve seized more than 20,000 pounds of deadly fentanyl at the border, and today we’ve discussed how all three of us can continue to deepen and strengthen our shared efforts to cut off the flow of illegal fentanyl,” Biden said.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also touched on drug trafficking during his speech, saying, “it’s not just a matter of the United States.”

“If we don’t confront this problem, this scourge, we are going to suffer it too,” he added. “We have to act in a coordinated way.”

Regardless of what has been said, combating fentanyl will be a slow process.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported fentanyl to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and the CDC’s data showed that fentanyl accounts for most overdose deaths.

In Washington, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced legislation last year that would require the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to update border inspections to better detect illegal activity along the border, like drug trafficking. The legislation passed in the Senate but it remains unknown if or when it could be revisited this year.

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