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McCormick: Consider limited military action against drug cartels

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(The Center Square) – With thousands of Pennsylvanians dying from overdoses, Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Dave McCormick wants an aggressive policy to stop the international drug flow.

“Our great commonwealth is under siege from this fentanyl crisis— and so is America,” McCormick said at a roundtable on fentanyl in Luzerne County.

He praised the work of local officials, who argued for stiff penalties on dealers.

“It’s become almost a cliché now, we can’t arrest our way out of the problem,” Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said. “On the other hand, there are people that should be blamed. This influx — it was by deliberate design to get people addicted. We need to see bigger penalties for the people that traffic in these drugs.”

The Senate candidate wants to make fentanyl a national priority, he said, and criticized President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey for failed leadership. He also proposed transforming the fight beyond local and state law enforcement.

“I think these drug cartels are such a threat that we should consider also, hopefully in concert with the Mexican government, of taking limited military action to stop the cartels from pushing fentanyl across our borders,” McCormick said. “That’s something that happened to some degree in the drug wars in Colombia … the consequences of not stopping this are so large that we need to sort of break the glass in terms of the actions we would consider.”

Others at the roundtable focused on getting drug users into recovery and making the public aware of fentanyl’s dangers.

“We can prosecute the dealers, the traffickers; the big piece that we’re missing is the education part and being extremely vocal about it,” said Shana Stefanick, national director of business development for STR Behavioral health, who has been in recovery for nine years. “I am not one of those people that was homeless, living under a bridge — I had the house, the husband, the kids, the white picket fence, and still became a heroin addict.”

Though she said treatment has improved, major problems remain.

“The average 28-day stay inpatient isn’t enough,” Stefanick said “This is a disease that I battle every single day and will battle for the rest of my life. It’s easier, though, when I have the tools and the resources to deal with that.”

No matter the approach, taxpayers carry a heavy burden.

“It’s a daily problem we have to deal with that’s costing our taxpayers millions of dollars in resources both to help fight addiction and for law enforcement and first responders,” Sanguedolce said.

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