By David Olen Cross
Continuing the trend, much of the illicit drugs killing Oregonians are produced, manufactured and smuggled into the state by drug cartels operating out of Mexico.
On April 24, the Oregon Medical Examiner (OME) reported 222 drug related deaths in 2013 were caused by the illicit drugs. The types of drugs by the numbers that killed 222 of the state’s residents last year were 123 deaths from methamphetamine, 111 deaths from heroin, 12 deaths from cocaine or 26 deaths from a combination of the preceding drugs.
When it came to illicit drug related deaths in the state last year, according to the OME, Multnomah County had the dubious distinction of leading all 36 Oregon counties with 102 drug related deaths (65 heroin, 45 methamphetamine, nine cocaine or 18 from a combination of drugs).
Putting these numbers into perspective, Multnomah County residents are just over 19 percent of Oregon’s population of 3.9 million, yet the county experienced nearly 46 percent of the state’s illicit drug deaths.
Not only last year, but over the last eight years Multnomah has led all Oregon counties in OME reported illicit drug related deaths by number and percentage:
– 2006 Multnomah 95 illicit drug deaths (45 percent of state’s drug deaths);
– 2007 Multnomah 101 illicit drug deaths (48 percent of state’s drug deaths);
– 2008 Multnomah 106 illicit drug deaths (46 percent state’s drug deaths);
– 2009 Multnomah 94 illicit drug deaths (44 percent state’s drug deaths);
– 2010 Multnomah 87 illicit drug deaths (43 percent state’s drug deaths);
– 2011 Multnomah 119 illicit drug deaths (50 percent state’s drug deaths);
– 2012 Multnomah 103 illicit drug deaths (46 percent state’s drug deaths);
– 2013 Multnomah 102 illicit drug deaths (46 percent state’s drug deaths).
Totaling the preceding numbers from eight years of OME reports, Multnomah County had 807 of the 1,752 illicit drug related deaths recorded in the state; an average of 46 percent of the state’s drug deaths.
Moving beyond the preceding OME reports’ body counts, a look at the current Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) prison population gives a picture of who is most likely dealing the drugs killing the state’s residents.
On April 1 in the DOC prison system there were 177 foreign nationals (prisoners with immigration detainers) incarcerated for drug crimes. One hundred fifty nine of those prisoners declared their country of origin is Mexico. That’s almost 90 percent of the foreign nationals in prison for drug crimes.
Locally, cases adjudicated in Multnomah County Circuit Courts have sent 58 Mexican nationals to serve time in DOC prisons for drug crimes, over 36 percent of the Mexicans in the state convicted and sent to prison for drug crimes.
Most Oregonians are well enough informed from news reports to know the majority of illicit drugs entering the state that originated in Mexico are driven up Interstate-5 hidden in the bowels of cars, SUVs and trucks.
The cartels’ drug mules and dealers operating motor vehicles bringing drugs into the state or distributing drugs across the state need some form of identification like an Oregon driver’s license or driver card to move around the state so they are unhindered by the possibility that a minor automobile accident or traffic citation could bring to light their criminal activities to law enforcement authorities.
Senate Bill 833, driver card legislation passed during the 2013 legislative session, could literally give the cartel members operating motor vehicles in this state a get-out-of-jail-free card because law enforcement authorities may simply not have probable cause to search their vehicles unless a serious automobile accident or traffic violation has occurred.
One common-sense solution to reduce future drug deaths in Oregon, case in point Multnomah County, which is now literally a drug den of death, is to make it more difficult for Mexican drug cartel operatives to access licenses.
Oregon’s registered voters will have the opportunity in the 2014 November general election, less than five months from now, to put the brakes on Mexican drug cartels’ ability to distribute drugs in this state by voting “No” on referendum 301 — thus sending Senate Bill 833’s driver cards for those who cannot prove legal presence in the United States into the archives of bad legislative history.
David Olen Cross lives in Salem. He can be reached at email@example.com.