Mexican drug traffickers issue prescription of death in Marion County
Guest Opinions
Mexican drug traffickers issue prescription of death in Marion County

Aug. 1, 2013 8:47 PM |

Written by
David Cross
Guest opinion

Most of the illicit drugs smuggled into Marion County come from Mexican drug-trafficking organizations, according to the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, 2013 Threat Assessment and Counter-Drug Strategy.

On June 4, the Oregon Medical Examiner reported that illegal drugs caused 223 deaths in 2012, the third-highest number since 2002. Of those, 147 were from heroin, 19 from cocaine, 93 from methamphetamine and 33 from a combination of drugs.

Marion County was tied for second with Jackson County with 19 illicit drug-related deaths, the third-highest number since 2006. Putting these numbers into perspective, the county experienced 8.52 percent of the state’s illicit drug deaths.

Looking at the annual state medical examiner reports, here are the statewide and Marion County drug deaths in recent years:

• 213 deaths from illegal drugs statewide in 2006; the county had 20 drug deaths.

• 212 deaths in 2007; the county had 15 drug deaths.

• 229 deaths in 2008; the county had 22 drug deaths.

• 213 deaths in 2009; the county had 13 drug deaths.

• 200 deaths in 2010; the county had 12 drug deaths.

• 240 deaths in 2011; the county had 10 drug deaths.

During the past seven years, Marion County had 111 of the 1,530 illicit drug-related deaths recorded in the state — 7.25 percent of the state’s drug deaths.

A look at the state prison population gives a picture of who is most likely dealing the drugs. On June 1 in the prison system there were 162 foreign nationals (prisoners with immigration detainers) incarcerated for drug crimes; 148 of those prisoners declared their country of origin as Mexico.

Locally, cases adjudicated in Marion County Circuit Court have sent 28 Mexican nationals to serve time in state prisons. The county was second among the 36 Oregon counties in the number of Mexican nationals locked up for drug crimes in the state prisons.

As recently as July 11, the Marion County jail incarcerated 32 prisoners with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, a strong sign federal immigration officials believe those individuals may be in the country illegally. Eight of those individuals with ICE detainers were charged with drug crimes.

To deal with the Mexican drug-trafficking organizations, the county commissioners and Sheriff’s Office should seek any and all economic resources they can find from federal, state or local government sources to fight the drug traffickers.

One place to start would be for the Sheriff’s Office to open up jail beds and lease them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The stationing of ICE agents at the jail would send a strong message to foreign drug traffickers that the county is no sanctuary for them.

The county should put aside any concerns about increased enforcement of the state’s drug laws through a new, higher level of cooperation with ICE officials offending the county’s Hispanic community, including those who are undocumented residents, because the illicit drugs poisoning and killing the county’s residents don’t discriminate on the basis of race, religion, country of origin or immigration status.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes frequently on immigration issues and foreign-national crime. He can be reached at


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