Commentary: Border Security Is Key to Ending Arizona’s Opioid Crisis

by John Moore


Since President Biden has taken office, Arizona has been at the frontline of a savage battle currently underway on America’s southern border. This battle is being waged against a constant wave of undocumented illegal immigrants and deadly drugs that are entering our country with very little oversight or repercussions.

Over the last year alone the Grand Canyon state has seen an over 1000% increase in border interactions in some areas, making the jobs of our border agents and first responders that much more dangerous. Corresponding with this wave has been an unfortunate spike in drug overdose deaths, closely tied to a surge in illicit fentanyl that has flowed across the southern border. The situation has gotten so bad that a recent government report declared that the trafficking of synthetic opioids into the United States is a “national security emergency that threatens both the national security and economic wellbeing of the country.” Making greater investments in our law enforcement agencies as well as embracing new policies and strategies to ensure border security and economic growth will be key to ending this crisis.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Typically manufactured in Chinese laboratories and smuggled into the United States by Mexican drug cartels, the drug has quickly overtaken heroin as the product of choice for these criminal enterprises due to its much higher profit margins and relative ease of smuggling. Volumes of the drug entering the country have surged as the chaos at the border has increased due to waves of migrants entering the country, leading to a significant problem for border enforcement agents. In fact, for the first time ever in 2021, more fentanyl was seized at the border than heroin.

The drug, which is frequently pressed into counterfeit pills by gangs and drug dealers and made to look like legitimate prescriptions, has also been increasingly found in other illicit street drugs. A recent rash of overdoses in Florida involving fentanyl laced drugs and affecting individuals from all walks of life, including an Army football player who was visiting the state on spring break, serves as a sobering example. According to a report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission the vast majority of fentanyl overdose deaths are accidental because as one expert put it, fentanyl is now found “in everything.” As a result, Americans are dying at an unprecedented rate from overdose deaths related to the drug. Last year marked a grim new milestone for the United States, with 100,000 drug overdose deaths for the first time ever, including 2,700 in Arizona alone.

Solving this border crisis and ending the opioid epidemic will require a whole of government approach. Meaningful immigration reform that encourages migrants to come here legally, deters illegal immigration, and ends the caravans of migrants the continue to swarm the southern border will be key to stemming the current and overwhelming flow of humanity moving north. Continuing construction on the physical wall, while also making sizeable investments in new detection technologies to help enhance the “virtual wall,” will meanwhile be a crucial force multiplier.

Providing the necessary tools for our law enforcement at the federal, state, and local level will also be key. Our law enforcement officials are doing a noble job with the current tools at their disposal, but at the moment they are simply outmanned and outspent by sophisticated multi-billion-dollar narco-enterprises. Increasing the size and equipment advantage of the border patrol can help them more effectively operate at our borders and make America safer.

Strong border security is a compassionate and life affirming issue for individuals living on both sides of the southern border. For those seeking to move north in search of a better life away from the drugs and violence of their home countries, such deterrents would help them escape the fate of millions of others who have been left for dead by human traffickers and coyotes or who have tragically perished in the desolate and dangerous mountains, deserts, and rivers along the southern frontier while trying to reach the U.S. For Americans it means stemming the pipeline of the illicit fentanyl that has caused death and despair for far too many. If we encourage such measures by working together as Americans, we can continue to take our country back and work together to build a brighter future.

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John Moore is the former Mayor and former Police Chief of Williams, AZ and a current candidate for Congress to represent the 2nd District of Arizona. You can read more about John and his campaign by visiting
Photos by John Moore. 




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