AZ Leaders Say Progress Made On Opioid Crisis, Border Security Concerns Remain

From left: Guadalupe Ramirez, acting director of field operations at U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Scott Brown, special agent in charge at U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Doug Coleman, special agent in charge at the Phoenix field division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; and Tim Roemer, deputy director at the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, discuss concerns about drug trafficking at a House Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee meeting in Phoenix. (Photo by Jennifer Magana/Cronkite News)

By Jennifer Magana and Emily Richardson

PHOENIX – Rep. Martha McSally on Wednesday blamed the country’s lack of border security as one reason for Arizona’s opioid epidemic.

Rep. Martha McSally discusses the opioid crisis in Arizona with reporters on a break from a House Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. (Photo by Jennifer Magana/Cronkite News)

“The overwhelming majority of drugs, up to maybe 90 percent, come through the nation’s ports of entry,” she told the House Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee. “In order to mitigate these illicit paths … We must secure the border and strengthen our postal system.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who on Tuesday ended his formal emergency health declaration on opioids, told lawmakers that the state has “certainly made progress, but we know that the fight remains deathly and it is far from over.”

Ducey said the state has improved access to treatment, enhanced education for people who prescribe or dispense opioids and enacted a good Samaritan law that shields users from drug charges if they seek help for someone who has overdosed.

Still, more than 1,200 Arizonans died during in the past year from suspected opioid-related causes, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Scott Brown, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations, said law enforcement has identified China and Mexico as primary sources of opioids – in the form of heroin and fentanyl – in the U.S. The drugs often are shipped through international carriers.

Guadalupe Ramirez, acting director of field operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Tucson, said heroin is a particular problem. In fact, heroin seizures alone have increased fivefold since 2009.

McSally, R-Tucson, said the opioid crisis needs more than just enforcement.

“We cannot enforce our way out of this problem,” she said. “We must also tackle this crisis with treatment and recovery options that help restore individuals to health and break the cycle of addiction.”

5 Comments on "AZ Leaders Say Progress Made On Opioid Crisis, Border Security Concerns Remain"

  1. David Thompson | May 31, 2018 at 6:04 am |

    From above:
    “Still, more than 1,200 Arizonans died during in the past year from suspected opioid-related causes, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.”

    Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who on Tuesday ended his formal emergency health declaration on opioids,

    So he just declared an end to the emergency with more than 3 people a day dying. It must be wonderful to abuse the power you have. Ken Bennett is beginning to look better all the time.

  2. NO, NO, & HELL NO TO McSally for any office. She’s nothing but a McCain open border sycophant.

  3. As long as there is a market, there will also be a supplier.

  4. Wallace V | May 31, 2018 at 10:36 am |

    I thought Ray Carroll had dedicated his life to solving the opioid crisis. But I think he changed his mind.

  5. borderbill (a NIMBY/BANANA) | May 31, 2018 at 3:35 pm |

    Talk-talk-talk-visit border with officials, ranchers, residents. Repeat.

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