(WATCH) Drug War

By most measures, America’s war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. From our biggest cities to rural areas, fentanyl, meth, and even a powerful modern version of marijuana have captured a generation, sparking mental illness, crime, and homelessness. Lisa Fletcher reports from New York’s Hudson Valley, where officials are still trying to crack the code.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

On patrol with the Village of Liberty police department. With 5,000 residents in the Catskill Mountains, we’re about 90 minutes from New York City.

Steve D’Agata has spent his entire police career here. He became chief in 2021 and has 18 sworn officers.

Lisa: What’s your biggest problem here?

Chief D’agata: The biggest problem is crime and the related issues surrounding the opioid epidemic.

Lisa: And how has the opioid crisis impacted your community here?

Chief D’Agata: So most acutely is, is the deaths. We have Sullivan County, the county we’re in, has the highest overdose death rate per capita in New York state.

That death rate from opioid overdoses was 46.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2021, well above the statewide average for that year.

Chief D’Agata: The officers go on the calls, they respond to the dead bodies, and they do the follow-up investigations. It’s a lot.

Lisa: Does it take its toll on your guys?

Chief D’Agata: Absolutely. We, unfortunately, very recently had a tragic overdose death of a 16-month-old.

That death, prosecutors say, was caused when the baby’s parents were smoking fentanyl and passed out, leaving drugs accessible to the toddler, who died of an apparent overdose.

According to the CDC, in 2022, 107,941 people died of a drug overdose in the United States, and almost 70% of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids, like fentanyl.

America’s problem with drug addiction, trafficking, and the crime it generates goes back much further.

In 1971, President Nixon famously declared war on drugs.

President Nixon: America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse.

Since then, federal tax dollars have poured in to deal with the problem and target drug users, dealers, and the major trafficking gangs. The federal government alone spent nearly $45 billion last year on drug control.

Lisa: Since 1971, we’ve spent a trillion dollars as a country fighting the war on drugs. From where you’re sitting, have we failed?

Chief D’Agata: Yeah, I don’t think it’s fair to call it a war. Wars end, and this has not.

The chief says he’s learned that we can’t just arrest our way out of the drug problem, and increasingly, national leaders are also trying new approaches.

In 2018, President Trump signed criminal justice reform to free thousands serving sentences for non-violent drug offenses. On Capitol Hill, members of both parties have been looking for new ideas.

Rep Blake Moore: Richard Nixon, 50 years ago, he started the war on drugs with just over 6,000 deaths in this country. We had 107,000 people die last year from fentanyl poisoning, and, unfortunately, many of them are young, and they’re getting younger.

Members have heard from police and federal law enforcement representatives that the fentanyl crisis requires more resources and going after the money flowing back to Mexico, where gangs control production and distribution, and China, where many fentanyl ingredients are made and exported.

Patrick Yoes: Drug cartels use precursor chemicals sourced by China to manufacture pills that are intentionally made to look like prescription medications like OxyContin, Percocet, and Xanax. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that, of these fake pills, 40 to 60% of them are often bought on social media and are laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

Some now want the government to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.

Former convict and drug dealer Jason DeFord, aka the rapper “Jellyroll,” also testified, saying he’s now on a mission to speak out about the fentanyl crisis.

Jason Deford: The story of the cartel sending drugs to America is a tale as old as time. It’s just not as deadly as it is right now. Because to your point, people aren’t overdosing because they’re doing too much. People are overdosing because they’re doing a little.

In the Village of Liberty, the chief has signed his department up for a program that tries to take a more pragmatic approach, called “Hope not Handcuffs.” It promises treatment and support to anyone who walks into the police department.

Chief D’Agata: Law enforcement has decided that our sole purpose is not law enforcement to enforce the criminal codes, but rather to take a holistic approach to public safety and, at appropriate times, connect people with resources to actually get better as opposed to just putting them in jail.

Lisa: Police officers are trained in part to be warriors. Is this a hard sell for some of your officers?

Chief D’agata: I try and instill a culture where they see people as people, they have a heart, they’re empathetic, they understand that everyone is someone’s mother, brother, sister, father. And they treat them how they would want their family treated.

So while the strategy they’re using here isn’t new and can’t solve the problems, it is, they believe, making a positive difference at the time of crisis.

For Full Measure, I’m Lisa Fletcher in the Village of Liberty, New York.

Sharyl: So what is the administration doing to stop the flow of fentanyl into the country?

Lisa: Well, President Biden’s 2024 budget called for more than $300 million in detection systems at the border to detect drugs when they were coming in at points of entry. He also struck a deal with China to try to stop the flow of chemicals to the Mexican cartels. That in and of itself probably isn’t going to do much, but we are going to hear a lot more about the border and drugs in the upcoming presidential campaign. Former President Trump says he thinks he can use Special Forces to go up against the Mexican cartels.

Watch video here.

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3 thoughts on “(WATCH) Drug War”

  1. 50 years and billions spent fighting the war on drugs and currently there are more drugs on the street , at higher potency and lower cost than ever before . How is this possible ?

  2. Just another bright government idea gone bad. Lots of idiots running a giant boondoggle, someone somewhere made a lot of money? Is it run like the department of immigration, maybe?

  3. Sharyl and Full Measure Team,

    This morning, on GMA’s rolling
    banner, we learn of Americans
    using DOPE (( why do you think
    it has been called, “Dope,” as
    talk-show-host Michael Savage
    asks ? ) B E Y O N D, for the first
    time, their use of A L C O H O L.

    SEE Any Coming Social
    Damage There, Sharyl ?

    Just before that bit of VERY
    bad news—we learn “1 in 9
    children [ boys ! ] suffer ADHD.“

    Recall my report : explaining
    how the MEDICAL Mafia had
    Made-Up that mental illness,
    for INCREASING profits—as my
    analysis had found SUGAR and
    CAFFEINE driving boys to
    behavior at home and in schools
    (( the Welfarists in D.C. giving
    money to parents who suffer
    ADHD kids notwithstanding,
    re the – false ! – increase in the
    number of reports from doctors/
    parents )).

    Regarding use of D O P E :

    Forwarded Message :

    – snip –

    Blame – partly – Rock /
    Rap / Gangta Rap / Hip-Hop
    and their Savage Drumbeats :



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