Fentanyl and the DEA story
Fentanyl and the DEA story

What the DEA Gets Wrong about the Current Fentanyl Crisis

The DEA blames the Chapos for Fentanyl, forgetting they created the Cartels to begin with.

Posted by:
Reginald Reefer on Thursday Aug 31, 2023

fentanyl and the DEA

No, it’s not the Sinaloa Cartel – it’s Prohibition!




The DEA is once again missing the forest for the trees in its assessment that the sons of "El Chapo" are primarily responsible for scaling up fentanyl production and trafficking after their father's arrest. While they may be significant players, the DEA fails to acknowledge how their own policies created the conditions that allowed fentanyl to become such a scourge.


The DEA acts as if drug cartels operate in a vacuum, when nothing could be further from the truth. Cartels like Sinaloa exist because of prohibition. For over 50 years, the US has waged a War on Drugs that has completely failed to reduce drug supply or demand. Instead, it has artificially inflated the profits of illicit drugs by pushing the drug trade into the hands of criminal organizations. With no legal market competition, groups like Sinaloa can charge astronomical prices.


The demand for opioids, both legal and illegal, has proven extremely inelastic. When the DEA restricts the prescription opioid supply, which they have done aggressively since the early 2010s, desperate people turn to the black market. With the legal supply diminished, criminal organizations rush to fill the void.


Fentanyl offers cartels an ideal product. It's synthetic, so it doesn't rely on the supply of plant-based drugs like heroin. It's also incredibly potent, allowing traffickers to smuggle small amounts across the border. One kilogram of fentanyl contains 500,000 doses and is worth over $1 million on the street. The profits are staggering compared to the minimal production costs.


Yet fentanyl is also far more dangerous than traditional opioids. Even tiny dosing errors can be fatal. Illicit fentanyl has become a leading driver of the overdose crisis, with over 60,000 deaths in 2020 alone. But just as with El Chapo's marijuana and cocaine trade, the fault lies first and foremost with prohibition.


The DEA also fails to consider its own complicity in El Chapo's rise to power. For decades, the DEA worked closely with Mexican authorities in the War on Drugs. This partnership was frequently corrupted by individuals on both sides of the border profiting from the drug war and even directly enabling trafficking. The incentive for corruption under prohibition is simply too high.


El Chapo rose in power not just despite the DEA's efforts, but in many ways because of them. And now the same cycle continues with his sons and associates like El Mayo. These black market dynamics will persist as long as the DEA tries vainly to prohibit human nature and market economics.


The tragic irony at the heart of the opioid crisis is that stricter prohibition led to stronger drugs. Similarly, defeating El Chapo led to more fentanyl. The DEA needs to fundamentally rethink its role. Only by moving to harm reduction over endless drug warring can we ameliorate this ongoing American tragedy.


How do you combat Fentanyl? You legalize heroin of course!

The fentanyl crisis devastating America will not end through prohibition and policing. The only solution that can effectively undermine the black market poisoning our communities with fentanyl is full legalization and harm reduction, starting with legal heroin.


Many balk at the idea of legal heroin, but it would be far safer than the current unregulated market flooded with fentanyl. When people overdose on street drugs, it’s usually because potency is unpredictable. Legal heroin with consistent dosing removes this risk. Further, providing pharmaceutical-grade heroin for free through supervised injection sites would completely decimate the cartels’ customer base.


Free heroin programs have been implemented successfully in several countries. Switzerland pioneered the approach in the 1990s, giving prescription heroin to addicts who failed other treatments. Over two decades, the program has slashed drug-related deaths, stabalized addicts' lives, and decriminalized addiction.


Portugal enacted a similar policy, becoming the first country to fully decriminalize all drug possession in 2001. Again, the results confounded critics. Overdose deaths and HIV infections dropped significantly, and the number of people in treatment doubled. By taking a health approach instead of criminal justice, Portugal improved public safety and welfare.


The data is clear that addressing the opioid crisis with treatment and harm reduction works better than prohibition, criminalization, and stigmatization. Unfortunately, the DEA and much of America’s law enforcement infrastructure remain committed to the failed War on Drugs.


But we know from history that prohibition does not end problematic substance use—it just empowers criminals and underground markets. Alcohol prohibition gave rise to Al Capone, modern drug prohibition El Chapo. Only by legalizing substances can we regulate them for safety and undermine criminal profiteering.


Fentanyl has infiltrated the drug supply because it maximizes smuggling profits. But few would seek it out if provided legal, regulated alternatives like heroin. It may seem counterintuitive, but giving away heroin is the only way to combat fentanyl.


Rather than wasting billions on DEA budgets every year, we could run free heroin programs. If the goal is saving lives and improving public health, the solution is apparent. Any deaths under a legal heroin program would be tragic but still fewer than the tens of thousands dying from fentanyl annually.


The opioid crisis requires America to shed its ideological commitment to prohibition. Our choice is not between saving lives with prohibition or abandoning drug users to addiction. Proven harm reduction approaches can restore dignity and stabilize people’s lives. Ending the War on Drugs is the only path to finally defeating the damage of cartels and lacing of drugs like fentanyl. The sooner we accept this, the more lives will be saved.


Why forcing addicts to quit drugs is counterproductive and dangerous!


Trying to force addicts into recovery before they are ready is not just futile, but dangerous. Research shows that rehab and abstinence programs have poor success rates when participation is coerced rather than voluntary.


According to studies, only about 2-5% of people pressured into rehab by courts or families achieve long-term sobriety. Most quickly relapse when the external pressure is removed. This is because imposed rehab does not address the underlying reasons why people use drugs. Healing cannot be compelled.


Trying to make addicts quit before they choose to leads to dangerous cycles of relapse and self-medication. Criminalizing addiction makes suffering worse by removing stable life foundations like housing, families, and work.


A better approach is stabilizing addicts' lives with compassion, not judgment. Providing safe housing, clean paraphernalia, addiction medications like methadone, and health resources reduces harm. Building a sense of community and belonging addresses addiction's roots in trauma, isolation, and despair.


With caring support, addicted persons can progressively reduce their drug use and transition to abstinence. But this must be their own choice. Forced rehab merely engenders distrust and resistance. Meeting drug users where they are at and giving them autonomy over recovery has the best outcomes.


The War on Drugs tries to impose sobriety through prohibition and punishment. But addiction is a disease, not a moral failure. We must move from condemnation to open arms, from control to empowerment. Only then can we end the overdose crisis ravaging our communities. For addicted lives matter too.


It’s time to nullify the Controlled Substance Act and renegotiate Drug Policies!


The fentanyl crisis has underscored the abject failure of America's War on Drugs. Each year, the human toll of overdoses and mass incarceration grows, while cartel violence terrorizes our southern border. We pursue this failed policy based on a false dichotomy - that our only options are either the current prohibitionist approach or totally abandoning drug users to addiction. In reality, the solution lies in a third path - harm reduction and decriminalization.


To enact this sensible reform, we must nullify the Controlled Substances Act that serves as the legal bedrock of prohibition. This Nixon-era law categorizes drugs into schedules largely based on moral judgements rather than pharmacological facts. It arbitrarily separates "legal" and "illegal" substances without scientific rationale. This ideological law does not curb drug use - it just empowers black markets and criminal organizations.


In effect, the Controlled Substances Act created a government-enforced monopoly for the pharmaceutical industry to peddle its own addictive drugs. Big Pharma helped spawn the opioid crisis through deceptive and irresponsible marketing of oxycontin and vicodin. It lobbies to keep plant-based competitors like cannabis and psychedelics prohibited. The DEA acts as its enforcement arm, violently suppressing any threats to this pharmaceutically-driven drug monopoly.


It is time to acknowledge that cognitive liberty and the authority over one's consciousness is a basic human right. While certain substances like alcohol and heroin carry risks, experience shows prohibition does far more harm than drug use itself. Education, harm reduction, and voluntary treatment provide a more ethical and effective approach.


Decriminalizing possession would keep nonviolent users out of prison. Legalizing natural psychoactive plants could help many mental health conditions. Providing pharmaceutical-grade opioids in safe injection sites would halt fentanyl overdoses. We know these measures work because they have succeeded in countries like Switzerland, Portugal, and Canada.


America's drug policies do not have to be dominated by ignorance, racism, and moral panic. We can base them on science, liberty, and compassion instead. But this begins with grassroots advocacy. Every voter should demand their representatives support drug policy reform. Local ballot initiatives are powerful tools as well.


The younger generations do not buy into "reefer madness" propaganda; they know the Drug War has been an abysmal failure. The politicians still carrying water for these harmful policies are relics of the past. Their day is done. The future lies in ending the racist, unethical, disastrous Controlled Substances Act regime. Only when we reclaim autonomy over our minds and bodies can we meaningfully address the overdose crisis. It starts by legalizing freedom.





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