- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 31, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence drew a straight line Thursday between federal efforts to intercept drugs along the U.S.-Mexico border and President Trump’s demands for wall funding from Capitol Hill.

Speaking to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mr. Pence painted a grim picture of the drug-trafficking network that operates in Mexico and Central America and permeates the U.S.

Traffickers are using a tide of unaccompanied minors and families seeking sanctuary in the U.S. to overwhelm agents and sneak in their product, he said.

Most of the heroin in the U.S. filters up from the southern border, the vice president added — an alarming fact, given that opioids at large killed 47,600 people in 2017. And he said 60 percent of the marijuana that comes up from Mexico enters at points other than ports of entry, making the case for re-enforcements that span the full border.

He said Mr. Trump wants a sweeping border plan that includes more security personnel and modern technology.

But ” ‘all of the above’ includes a wall,” he added. ” ‘All of the above’ includes a physical barrier in the critical, high-density areas where our law enforcement says it’s most needed.”

House Democrats say a wall is unnecessary.

Yet Mr. Trump insists on it, saying to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs from the border is a crisis and that a second government shutdown could result from Democratic leaders’ reluctance. He’s also flirted with using emergency powers to build a wall.

“As the debate goes on on Capitol Hill, one way or another this president and this administration is going to secure our southern border for the sake of the American people and all of you who enforce our laws,” Mr. Pence told agents at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

Mr. Pence addressed the agency after a briefing on the border from Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and other top officials.

Mr. Dhillon said it was the first visit to headquarters by a vice president since George H.W. Bush came by in 1988.

Later Thursday, Mr. Pence will swear in James W. Carroll as Mr. Trump’s permanent “drug czar.”

The Senate confirmed Mr. Carroll to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy earlier this month.

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