US President Donald Trump has told several associates of a desire to have drug dealers in the country executed, according to US media.
Trump has mentioned the subject on a number of occasions, mulling the idea of bringing in a mandatory death penalty for drug dealers, news website Axios reported on Sunday.
Trump considers drug traffickers to be as bad as serial killers and would “love to have a law” that executes dealers in the US, unnamed sources told Axios.
However, Trump has privately acknowledged that it would be near impossible to pass a law requiring a mandatory death sentence for drug dealers in the US, according to the report.
The report said the president believed a softer approach to addressing the US drug crisis would never work and seemed to admire the drug policy of Singapore, where drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence.
Trump “often jokes about killing drug dealers,” one senior administration official told Axios. “He’ll say, ‘You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem — they just kill them.’”
Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, responded to the report, saying the president was focusing only on high-volume drug dealers, especially those trafficking the opioid fentanyl.
“The president makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend,” she said.
In November, Trump declared the country’s drug crisis a “public health emergency.” He also announced an advertising campaign to combat the epidemic, but did not direct any new federal funding toward the effort.
US government and healthcare officials have been struggling to stem the epidemic of overdoses, which killed more than 64,000 Americans last year alone, up from 52,000 the previous year. More than half were related to opioids.
Opioid drug abuse has killed more Americans than the US wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan combined, highlighting the growing opioid crisis in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).