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Trump says death sentences for dealers will solve U.S. drug problem

By Brett Rowland
The Center Square

Former President Donald Trump said soft sentences for drug dealers have helped fuel fentanyl overdose deaths in the U.S. 

Trump, 77, is running against President Joe Biden in the presidential election this November. 

"So many are dying where they think they're getting something and going to have a little fun on a Friday night and all of sudden their dead," Trump said on Fox News. 

"You'll never really solve the drug problem unless you do what other countries do – and that's the death penalty for drug dealers," Trump said during the interview. "A drug dealer on average will kill, during that person's life, 500 people. Unless you have a death penalty. Right now, they don't even get charged with anything."

Thirty-four countries apply the death for some drug crimes, according to a 2023 report from Harm Reduction International. The report noted that Pakistan removed the death penalty as a possible punishment for certain violations of its Control of Narcotics Substances Act.

Illicit fentanyl killed nearly 38,000 Americans in the first six months of 2023, according to a 2024 DEA report. Synthetic opioids were involved in 74,225 deaths in 2022 – 68% of the total 111,036 deaths that year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 after a jury convicted him of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to an adult actress before the 2016 election. 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. A lethal dose of fentanyl is about 2 milligrams, depending on the opioid tolerance of the user. In 2022, the average fentanyl pill contained 2.4 milligrams of fentanyl, according to analysis by DEA forensic chemists who test random samples of the fentanyl seized in the U.S. Overall, the tested samples ranged from a low of .03 milligrams to a high of 9 milligrams. The purity of powdered fentanyl also has increased. The average purity of the fentanyl powder samples was 19.2% in 2022, a 33% increase since 2021. The overall tested samples ranged from almost no fentanyl to 81.5% pure fentanyl.

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