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Opioids Top Homeland Security’s Annual Threat List

While traditional concerns such as terrorism and foreign aggression remain at the forefront of public concern, there is another threat affecting communities across the United States: the epidemic of illegal drugs. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s annual threat study, there were over 100,000 overdose deaths in the last year. Because of this significant increase in overdose deaths, illicit drugs are expected to become one of the biggest threats to national security, according to the report released back in September. 

Opioids are a class of drugs known for their potent pain-relieving properties. However, synthetic opioids, often manufactured illicitly in clandestine laboratories, present heightened dangers due to their potency and unpredictable effects.

Central to the illegal drug trade’s expansion is the role played by Mexican drug trafficking organizations. These criminal enterprises have mastered the art of smuggling narcotics across the border, flooding American streets with lethal substances. The overdose epidemic impacting the nation is mostly fueled by synthetic opioids, with fentanyl at the forefront. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), synthetic opioids account for approximately 75 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the US.

In response to the escalating threat posed by illegal drugs, DHS has ramped up its efforts to combat drug trafficking and distribution. The DHS said in a statement to ABC News that the agency has allocated resources to intercepting dangerous narcotics at the border, resulting in significant seizures of fentanyl and other illicit substances. More people have been arrested for fentanyl-related crimes in the last two years than the previous five years combined.

While much progress has been made by Homeland Security in combating illegal drugs, much work remains to be done as overdose deaths continue to rise. Collaborative efforts encompassing prevention, treatment, and enforcement strategies are essential to curbing the demand for illicit substances and dismantling criminal networks worldwide.