America is facing a drug crisis unlike anything it has ever seen before. On average from 1999 to 2016, 115 people died every day from opioid overdoses across the nation — with the total annual figure peaking at more than 49,000 in 2017. If this were a disease or a plague, America would be in a panic, schools would close, and those affected would be in quarantine. 

A new synthetic opiate called fentanyl is responsible for much of this carnage. One of the deadliest drugs to ever plague our streets, just 2 milligrams of fentanyl can kill a grown man — making it more dangerous than anthrax. Many times, users have no idea that these synthetic opioids are being laced into marijuana, heroin, and pills that appear to be legitimate prescription medications. In Ohio, roughly 50 percent of the pills being sold on the streets are fakes with a fentanyl and heroin mix. Even though the pills look legitimate, a single one can be lethal. There are no second chances. 

Along with my colleagues, I produced the documentary “Not in Vein” to make clear to Americans and the entire world the problems we face in this battle. Over the past two years, I interviewed federal agents, undercover vice cops, grieving parents, and expert activists to determine the severity and cause of the opioid crisis. They’ve shown me that the drugs hurt entire communities by creating a lethal culture, endangering individuals, destroying families, and filling cities with gangs that target vulnerable teenagers. 

The groups responsible for bringing these drugs into our country are some of the deadliest and most brutal gangsters to ever operate inside and outside America. Violent marauders like the Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco Neuva Generacion and the armed street gangs they hire, including MS-13, are moving contraband at a constant rate. Translated, the motto of MS-13 is “kill, steal, rape, control.” 

And they control with drugs and the hundreds of billions of dollars they amass from illegal contraband sales and human trafficking. Each gang has its area of operations and is constantly vying for new territory. The idea is that if a gang controls the drug supply, it controls the population hooked on it. It’s a guaranteed customer base. And money is the only thing that motivates them. 

To bring their money, drugs, and people into the country, cartels exploit vulnerable areas of the United States-Mexico border. They build sophisticated tunnels, conduct late-night expeditions, and use high-tech surveillance to bring whatever they want into our nation. Border police are already spread too thin, and they do not have the resources available to combat the threat fully. The lack of border control has allowed cartels to set up way stations far into our country where their product is accumulated and then shipped to different areas throughout the U.S. 

There is a simple way to fight the daunting criminal networks working against America: a border wall. Not a barrier to stop legal immigrants, but a wall to prevent horrific substances and brutal killers from entering our country. It would be a great start to a long fight to bring down that daily opioid death toll. A border wall will provide law enforcement with a massive buffer and make their jobs a lot easier. 

Our government can also fight the drug epidemic by declaring the gangs domestic terrorist organizations (DTOs). Currently, all Mexican drug cartels are classified as foreign trans-national criminal organizations, which limits the resources available to combat one of the greatest threats we face today. By changing the classification, Congress will be able to pressure the Mexican government to either help us take these cartels down or find itself complicit in terrorism. The change in designation would also free up more federal resources for the fight against these horrible criminals. 

The fight to end the opioid crisis requires hard work nationwide. The death of so many Americans every day, the harm to families, the threat to entire communities are all catastrophic, and our government must engage with the problem. This is nothing less than domestic terrorism, and we need to demand that our leaders in Washington declare the Mexican drug cartels enemies of the state. These are not simple criminals, they are child killers. We must take action to protect our nation and the American people should make addressing the opioid crisis the top issue when voting on Nov. 6.