President Donald Trump said Thursday the “ultimate penalty” may be in order for drug dealers because the nation’s drug problem will never be solved without a show of strength and toughness.
The comments were Trump’s most explicit on the matter to date. He previously has alluded to death for drug dealers by noting that some countries are “very harsh” with drug dealers. Trump also has said he knows the answer to the drug crisis, but he isn’t sure the country is “ready for it yet.”
In remarks Thursday at a White House summit on the opioid epidemic, Trump said drug dealers and pushers kill hundreds of people but that that most don’t go to jail.
“You know, if you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These people can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them,” he said, referring to drug dealers.
“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty - the ultimate penalty. And, by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do,” Trump continued. “So we’re going to have to be very strong on penalties.”
Trump administration takes steps
Trump also held out the possibility of initiating federal lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors. He also said his administration will be “rolling out a policy” on opioids in the coming weeks that will be “very, very strong.” Neither he nor his aides provided any details.
Trump said he had spoken with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about suing opioid makers. Sessions announced this week that the Justice Department will support local officials in hundreds of lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors.
Addressing potential federal litigation, Trump said: “I think it’s very important because a lot of states are doing it, but I keep saying, if states are doing it, ‘Why isn’t the federal government doing it?’ So that will happen. So that will happen.”
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