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'Spectacular Failure of Leadership': Trump's Opioid Epidemic Proposal Reportedly Includes Plan to Execute Drug Dealers

The president's proposal appears to have been inspired by authoritarian leaders like Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has led to thousands of deaths in poor communities

A man walks down a street in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, which has had a high rate of heroin abuse in recent years. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's recent threats to execute drug dealers are reportedly materializing in his final plan to combat the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of people annually in recent years.

According to Politico, the proposal—expected to be unveiled next week when the president visits New Hampshire, one of the hardest-hit states—will call for capital punishment for dealers and traffickers in "certain cases where opioid, including Fentanyl-related, drug dealing and trafficking are directly responsible for death."

The notion of state-sanctioned executions of drug dealers has alarmed public health experts and criminal justice reform advocates in recent days, as Trump has expressed admiration for Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs and similar measures by other leaders.

Human rights groups have condemned Duterte's drug war as it has led to thousands of deaths in poor communities, many at the hands of the Philippine National Police.


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A senior administration official told Axios last week that the president "often jokes about killing drug dealers....He'll say, 'You know the Chinese and Filipinos don't have a drug problem. They just kill them.'" Trump also has privately expressed admiration for Singapore's policy of putting to death people who sell, administer, transport, or distribute certain quantities of drugs.

"Think of it, you kill one person, you get the death penalty in many states," Trump told a crowd in Pennsylvania last weekend. "You kill 5,000 people with drugs because you're smuggling them in and you're making a lot of money and people are dying, and they don't even put you in jail. They don't do anything...and then you wonder why we have a problem."

The expected proposal and Trump's recent rhetoric have led many to argue that pushing for the executions of drug dealers would result in targeting low-income and black communities.

"I wish that he had the same tenacity in attacking the practices of multi-national pharmaceutical companies that have pushed prescription opioids, which have led to the vast majority of abuse cases," Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) told Rolling Stone on Thursday.

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