Trump: “More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”
Some 58,220 Americans died as a result of the Vietnam War. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of total drug overdose deaths was 70,327.
However, the President’s assertion is misleading, conflating the drugs coming across the US-Mexico border with total drug deaths in the US. In addition, it’s not currently known whether overdose deaths will increase or decrease when the CDC releases 2018 data later this year.
Trump’s figures also do not distinguish between deaths caused by drugs smuggled into the country versus those prescribed by US doctors.
The majority of hard narcotics seized by Customs and Border Protection come through ports of entry either in packages, cargo or with people who attempt to enter the US legally. The only drug that is smuggled in higher numbers between legal entry points is marijuana, according to information from CBP and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
China has been one of the leading sources of illegal synthetic opioids. However, China’s role with the importation of fentanyl may soon shift, since President Xi Jinping agreed to make fentanyl a controlled substance late last year.