ABC reporter Meridith McGraw, who covers the White House, recently tweeted:

Inbox: For a payment of $20.20, the Trump campaign says they will send a “faux brick” to Pelosi and Schumer’s offices “with facts about the need for border security and an appeal to “TEXT ‘WALL’ to 88022.”

Brick with writing on it

The brick reads:

TEXT "WALL" TO 88022

This tweet was notable enough to be picked up by The Week,

Did enough Fentanyl get (illegally?) imported to the US in 2018 to kill every (US) American?

  • 1
    Based on the "Fentanyl at the border" bit and considering Fentanyl's low median lethal dosage compared to other common opioids (unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2017/March/…), it would appear to mean "Enough Fentanyl to kill every American." This may help you revise your question to one on whether or not enough Fentanyl has entered the US to kill every American (though whether that specific factoid is meaningful would perhaps be a different question for a different site).
    – JAB
    Jan 19 '19 at 0:30
  • 7
    I know this is about the claim itself, but even if it's true, I don't see why it really matters. Of course there would be much more supply than immediate demand, so that they wouldn't need to constantly smuggle it into the US. On a comparative note, I'm sure enough aspirin also entered the US to kill every American. Jan 19 '19 at 1:49
  • 2
    Curiosity question: is enough alcoholic beverages imported that, if drunk in one session, would be enough to kill every American? Jan 19 '19 at 9:37
  • 3
    @AndrewGrimm: Here's some UN import statistics. In particular, it shows about 1.07e9 kg of "undenatured ethyl alcohol > 80% by volume" imported in 2017, so about 8e8 kg of alcohol. With a lethal dose around 300 g, that's about 2.7e9 lethal doses. If you just combine the wine, beer and whiskey and account for their concentration, you get a smaller but still adequate figure. Jan 19 '19 at 18:16
  • 1
    There is no need to only look at smuggling and import. The fresh water reserves in the US are large enough to kill roughly 300,000,000,000,000 persons if drunk at once. Jan 22 '19 at 18:48

According to Fentanyl seizures at US-Mexico border up 750 percent:

The amount of fentanyl seized by border agents has skyrocketed in recent years, from two pounds in fiscal year 2013 to approximately 1,485 pounds from Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017

Matthew Barden of the Drug Enforcement Administration is cited as saying:

300 pounds of fentanyl is lethal enough to kill about 100 million people

So enough fentanyl was seized by border agents in FY2017 to kill every American. Plus, obviously not all the fentanyl is interdicted. As long as 2018 amounts are at least as much as FY2017, the claim is defensible.

  • 4
    @DanielRHicks the title of the article says "US-Mexico", but it's possible it could include all borders, including oceanic. I'll try to determine. Also, the claim just says "the border", not any particular border :)
    – DavePhD
    Jan 19 '19 at 1:06
  • 6
    The vast majority of fentanyl is shipped as ordinary freight from China, through the USPS or other international carriers. It isn't smuggled across the Mexican border, as mailing it is much simpler, cheaper, and safer (for the drug baddies). Jan 19 '19 at 1:14
  • 8
    I call BS, for several reasons. (1) 118 pounds of fentanyl killing 26 million people implies the LD50 dose is 1 microgram, or 0.015 mg/kg. (2) The LD50 doses in mice, dogs, and rats are on the order of multiple mg/kg. The rate in monkeys is supposedly 0.03 mg/kg, but that rate is out of line with other mammals. (3) If fentanyl was that deadly, there wouldn't be a drug problem: All opioid addicts would be dead in very short time. Don't take me wrong: Fentanyl is a very, very dangerous drug. But this particular claim by the US government looks like yet another case of overblown reefer madness. Jan 19 '19 at 3:12
  • 5
    The LD50 dose in humans is in fact unknown, and that opens the door to overblown claims. Jan 19 '19 at 3:17
  • 4
    It'd be great if we could get a better reference for "enough to kill N people" than the Barden quote. He's a law enforcement officer, not a scientist, and he doesn't explain the basis for those numbers. Jan 19 '19 at 17:42

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