- - Sunday, July 3, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The two groups with the most to lose with a Donald Trump victory on Nov. 8 would be the Mexican drug cartels and their Chinese suppliers. The reason is pretty simple: Mr. Trump has made securing the border his principal campaign theme. If the border is secured by a wall or some combination of means against the flood of illegal aliens and potential terrorists, then it automatically puts a major hit on the flow of narcotics across the border. If they can’t get the illegals in, they can’t get the dope in, either.

Absent the threat of a Trump victory in November, the Mexican drug cartels and their Chinese suppliers must have a bounce in their step these days. To begin with, even if we didn’t have open borders as de-facto administration policy, the reality that heroin and other illegal drugs from Mexico are widely available and cheap would confirm that the doors are open. There is more than enough supply available on street corners from coast to coast.

Second, while the old standbys, cocaine and methamphetamines, are perking along quite nicely from the cartels’ viewpoint, the United States is about to receive a tsunami of heroin as new Mexican poppy production goes online this year. By the time President Obama leaves office, Mexican poppy production will have tripled from the George W. Bush days, and there seems to be no administration interest or program to deal with it.

The cartels don’t have much to worry about from enforcement side of the Obama administration, either. Then-Sen. Joe Biden was apparently the first to use the term “drug czar” back in 1982 and he certainly is as responsible as anyone on the Hill for the establishment of the Office of National Drug Control Policy as a cabinet-level unit within the executive office of the president. In the past, some heavy hitters — Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, Houston Mayor Lee Brown, Florida Gov. Bob Martinez and Gen. Barry McCaffrey — occupied the post of drug czar, but one would be hard-pressed to name the current incumbent. The office has been downgraded to sub-Cabinet. As soon as he took office in 2009, Mr. Obama’s first drug czar banned the term “war on drugs,” signaling a kinder, gentler policy of dealing with narcotics enforcement issues. The results speak for themselves.

Then there is fentanyl, which has fallen into the lap of the Mexican drug cartels. Sourced largely from China, it is far more potent than heroin, easier to produce and more addictive. On top of that, fentanyl commands a big street premium over heroin. Fentanyl is a dream product for the cartels but a nightmare for American young people.

Lastly, the cartels will look forward optimistically to a Hillary Clinton presidency. Based on her campaign website, she is even more firmly committed to open borders than Mr. Obama. Nothing in her record as a U.S. senator or secretary of state suggests that blocking the illegal importation of narcotics would be on her radar screen.

In this context, there is the curious case of kingpin Carlos Vignali. As recounted in her book, “The Final Days,” (Regnery 2001), the late Barbara Olson noted that Carlos was in federal prison facing some serious time. The feds were happy to get him off the street as he was the chief supplier of crack cocaine to minority areas of the Twin Cities. In fall 2000, Carlos had heard that commutations were maybe available if the price was right. In the end, the Vignali family paid the Rodham brothers $400,000 and Bill Clinton gave Carlos a “Get Out of Jail Free” card — i.e., he was released for time served. We can only speculate whether Mrs. Clinton bullied her husband into doing something he would not ordinarily want to do, but that seems the most likely explanation. In any case, the story of how Carlos got out of prison deserves more attention. So far as can be determined, she has never been seriously questioned about it.

Since it is illicit, nobody really knows the total value of the drug trade in the United States. The RAND Corp. was asked about five years ago and they came up with a figure of $100 billion per year. That included heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana, but not fentanyl. Whatever it is, it is at least in the high tens of billions of dollars and probably more. We can expect the Mexican cartels and their Chinese suppliers to defend what is theirs if Mrs. Clinton begins to drop in the polls, and that may show up in more attacks on Mr. Trump’s supporters.

“We win; they lose,” has a nice ring to it.

• William C. Triplett II is the former chief Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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