MIAMI – US Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for drastic action to deal with the country’s opioid crisis at the opening of the Opioid Summit on Thursday in Miami.
“Things have changed, and we have to change,” Sessions said, explaining that the fight against these drugs must be a national priority for President Donald Trump, as well as for Congress and all Americans.
The attorney general said that the summit provides an opportunity to devise ways to prevent overdose deaths, which average 116 per day in the US, according to official figures.
Attending the closed-door summit begin held at the US Southern Command are representatives of federal law enforcement agencies and public health and judicial officials.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), more than 64,000 overdose deaths were reported in the US in 2016, of which more than 42,000 were linked to opioids, including both prescribed drugs and street drugs often mixed with heroin, cocaine and even methamphetamines.
James Walsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), who is participating in the summit, expressed concern about these mixtures and about the online sale of fentanyl. Walsh told EFE that fentanyl is sold on the Dark Web and is bought using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate pain reliever similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times stronger.
The attorney general said that all government agencies must take drastic measures to address the “public health emergency” involving drugs that the president declared in October 2017.
Sessions said that the summit builds on previous meetings to devise common initiatives against opioid drug trafficking held with his counterparts from Mexico, Colombia and Central America, as well as with top officials from China, which is the main country of origin for the fentanyl consumed in the US.