WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that the US follow the example of other countries that impose the death penalty on drug traffickers and threatened to sue companies that manufacturer painkillers with an eye toward halting the opioid addiction epidemic in this country.
He said that some countries levy extremely harsh penalties – including the death penalty – on “drug pushers and drug dealers” adding that “by the way, (those countries) have much less of a drug problem than we do. So we’re going to have to be very strong on penalties.”
Trump delivered his remarks at a White House summit on the opioid epidemic after – as reported last Sunday by the online publication Axios – spending months telling certain friends that he thinks the US should execute all drug traffickers, as Singapore does.
Last year, Trump also praised Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte for the “incredible job” he has done in fighting illegal drugs there, despite the controversy surrounding his policy of extrajudicially executing drug traffickers and addicts that has left more than 7,000 people dead over the past 18 months, according to estimates.
“If you want to be weak and talk about just blue ribbon committees, that is the not answer,” Trump said.
“The answer is you have to have strength and toughness. The drug dealers and the pushers are ... really doing damage. Some countries have a very, very tough penalty. The ultimate penalty,” he added.
“They kill hundreds and hundreds of people, and most of them don’t even go to jail,” the president said.
“These people can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them. And we need strength with respect to the pushers and to the drug dealers. And if we don’t do that, you will never solve the problem,” he declared.
Trump said that he plans to present within the next three weeks a series of initiatives to combat opioid addiction, adding that he had spoken with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the possibility of filing lawsuits – as hundreds of US communities have done – against firms that make the powerful painkillers.
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control, 64,000 people died from opioid overdoses (including heroin) in the US in 2016, or some 175 people per day.