Evoking the deaths in the Korean War and the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels as comparisons and blaming Mexico and the Obama administration, Rep. John Mica lashed back against the heroin epidemic flaring in Central Florida and the rest of the country at a National Oversight Committee Hearing Tuesday.
“This epidemic is an unprecedented slaughter of Americans, and now drug deaths are the number one killer of our youth,” he said, according to a press release.
The number of heroin-related deaths nationwide in 2014 was 47,055 – that means there were more killed by heroin that year than the total number of fatalities in the Korean War, he said according to the press release.
He lamented that the late Nancy Reagan‘s “Just Say No” policy on drugs had turned into a “Just Say OK” policy under the Obama administration, and “now we’re seeing the consequences.”
He also condemned the Obama administration for its “mixed signals” on the use of marijuana, which he said was a gateway drug that could lead to heroin use.
Mica told Orlando Rising Tuesday afternoon that he wanted to find out exactly how the Obama administration was spending the money Congress had given them for combating the heroin epidemic.
He said the border laws in the U.S. were lax enough that drugs were “streaming across the border,” with infamous drug lord El Chapo having admitted to crossing the border several times.
“That was the most sought-after drug dealer,” Mica said. “And he transits the border like it’s some kind of holiday visit to the United States.”
Mexico was “like the amateur hours at the drug operation” 15 years ago, he added, but “now they’ve become the pros.” The solution, Mica said, was to go after the drug producers at the source, in Mexico, much like the military goes after ISIS.
“You have to stop the stuff at its source. Drastic steps need to be taken.”
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs made an appearance as well, talking about the recently-concluded Heroin Task Force, which was in operation from August of 2015 to March of 2016. The task force, she said, arrested 370 people in six months, and also issued 37 recommendations on what to do next in March when they concluded.
Heroin, she said, was “a serial killer,” and jails for those who use it are “a treatment of last resort.”
Mica said he feared over 50,000 deaths this year if the rising trends of heroin use continue. Most, he said, aren’t comprehending the problem.
“I am afraid this year deaths will be off the charts,” he said. “Prosecutions are down, and the slaughter is out of control. We saw what happened with the terrorist attacks in Brussels – we’re being attacked in the streets and in our schools and our families.”