The DEA smashes one of Trump's main claims about the border wall
As the president attempts to make his case for a wall on the US-Mexico border, one of his main selling points is that the wall would reduce the flow of illicit drugs into the country. But his own Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) knows better, and its 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment, released just two months ago, makes clear that at best Trump is uninformed and at worst that he is lying to the American people.
“Remember drugs. The drugs are pouring into this country. They don’t go through the ports of entry. When they do, they sometimes get caught,” Trump claimed at a Rose Garden news conference last Friday.
It's not a new claim for the president; it has been a pillar of his claim that there is a “crisis” on the border. But repeating a false claim doesn't make it any less false. What is true, as the DEA reports, is that the southwest border “remains the primary entry point for heroin into the United States,” but it is not being lugged across the desert via a wall-less border.
According to the DEA, “the majority of the flow is through POVs [privately owned vehicles] entering the United States at legal ports of entry, followed by tractor-trailers, where the heroin is co-mingled with legal goods. Body carriers represent a smaller percentage of heroin movement and they typically smuggle amounts ranging from three to six pounds taped to their torso, or in shoes and backpacks.”
To be clear, the body carriers the DEA is talking about are people coming through ports of entry—not across an open border. The agency reported that only “a small percentage of all heroin seized” along the border was seized between ports of entry.
It's the same thing with fentanyl. According to the DEA, which says fentanyl imports are split between China and Mexico, Mexican drug traffickers “most commonly smuggle multi-kilogram loads of fentanyl concealed in POVs before trafficking the drugs through Southwest Border ports of entry.” In the San Diego sector, which saw the biggest fentanyl seizures, 74 percent of seizures were from cars at ports of entry. In the Tucson sector, which had the next highest fentanyl seizure numbers, that figure was 91 percent.
Claiming that building a border wall would reduce the flow of drugs into the country is probably not the biggest lie Trump and his allies have told about the wall, but it is patently false.