More than five people per day died of an opioid-related overdose in Massachusetts during the first nine months of this year, according to the Department of Public Health. While heroin deaths are down sharply, fentanyl deaths are soaring.

Almost all of the fentanyl that is killing Americans at such an alarming rate is coming from China, either through the mail or over the U.S. border with Mexico. While some is being carried in through Canada, and an increasing amount is manufactured here, the bulk of the fentanyl is from China.

A report last year by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission blames “China’s illicit chemical production and inefficient U.S. and international counter narcotic efforts” for a good deal of the global fentanyl problem.

The Commission says, “Chinese law enforcement officials have struggled to adequately regulate thousands of chemical and pharmaceutical facilities operating legally and illegally in the country, leading to increased production and export of illicit chemicals and drugs.”

A big part of the solution to the problem is a border wall. Greater scrutiny of the mail processing system is also necessary. Both would cost a lot of money. Intense political pressure must also be placed on China to force it to crack down on its fentanyl industry that is poisoning the world.

The fentanyl crisis is a threat to national security and should be treated as such. The international trafficking of fentanyl from China to the U.S. must be dealt with as severely as any other security threat would be, and that includes using the military to make it stop.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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