As I was reading about the drug crisis in West Virginia there was a passage from the article that really stuck out to me:
A Charleston Gazette-Mail investigation last year found that...drug wholesalers shipped over 780 million doses of opiate painkillers hydrocodone and oxycodone to the state, or roughly '433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia.
After reading the article I had a some questions: If wholesalers are shipping the drugs into West Virginia through legal channels, at what point in the distribution network do they go from controlled substances (contained in government regulated environments) to the streets? The wholesalers aren't shipping these drugs into West Virginia on a whim, so who's ordering them? If a reporter could collect all of this information, why can't federal and state prosecutors?
Breaking Bad was a huge success, but I don't know any street level guys who can turn opioids or synthetic opioid derivatives into oxycodone or hydrocodone, yet the victims of pharmaceutical malfeasance are the public face of this epidemic. The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute the drugs are never seen as complicit. If law enforcement doesn't get serious about locking up chief executives and doctors, poor whites throughout Appalachia will continue dying from the drugs that are flooding into their communities. If Isis was doing this to rural America their would be a concerted effort to end the carnage.
The reaction to this crisis by local law enforcement in many counties has been feeble at best. Opioids are easier to get than Marijuana. In the new war on drugs the courts double down on the punishment for black and brown people involved in the crisis, they provide treatment for whites who are the "victims", and law enforcement completely ignores the white collar criminals making the money. As long as there's no consequences for those at the top of the supply chain we won't see any changes.
During the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers were the victims of a similar drug epidemic; they were getting hooked on heroin. The heroin they were using was coming from Afghanistan. It was some of the best dope in the world. How did heroin from the middle east find its way into a war zone in the far east? (For those interested, research the Golden Triangle and Air America.) Vietnam was a drug dealer's heaven: highly stressed young men with disposable income. This is similar to what we see in rural America, but with less money. There are pharmaceutical companies getting richer at the expense of the misery poor whites are experiencing. I've heard more ineffective politicians address this issue than I can recall. They talk tough, but none of them are delivering. I'll take this new version of the war on drugs serious when I see coordinated raids on distribution sites, pharmacies, and clinics. When I see people pulled off of golf courses and out of hospitals I'll know America is serious about opioid addiction. Until then, I'll watch what passes for justice in the absence of justice.
Here's the link to the article.