Administration Official: ‘Our Streets Are Flooded With Heroin’ With Much of It ‘Coming From Mexico’

By Penny Starr | March 9, 2016 | 1:48pm EST

Mary Lou Leary, deputy

director of State, Local, and

Tribal Affairs for the Office

of National Drug Contol

Policy. (U.S. Gov't.) 

( – An official with the Obama administration said on Tuesday that the “streets are flooded with heroin” in the United States and much of it “is coming from Mexico.”

Mary Lou Leary, deputy director of State, Local and Tribal Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), spoke at the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. During a confence-workshop on heroin addiction and prevention, asked Leary about the need to address border security and drug cartels to combat the opioid crisis.

“I think there’s another issue I’m sure that the chief really appreciates and that is, ‘Where is this heroin coming from?’” Leary said, noting fellow panelist, Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay, who spoke about law enforcement’s role battling heroin.

Leary continued, “Our streets are flooded with heroin. It’s not domestically grown or produced. Much of this is coming from Mexico.”

“And so there’s another aspect to this, which is work that we do with ONDCP with our other federal partners, and that is working with federal law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction beyond the U.S. borders, and also working with the government of Mexico,” Leary said.

“Our director Michael Botticelli was just in Mexico last week meeting with high officials; talking with them about the issues – what can we do together to stop this flow of heroin across the border?” she said.

“So that’s a very important part of this problem,” Leary said. “Demand reduction is significant and so on, but this is coming from some place and we know through DEA’s efforts and through the State Department and so on that much of it’s coming from Mexico.”

Heroin from Mexico seized in

San Bernardino, Calif. (AP)

“So we’re really doubling down on those efforts, as well,” she said.

Police Chief McLay said that while getting treatment for those addicted to heroin is an important part of dealing with the issue, law enforcement has a vital role to play in prosecuting drug dealers.

“We absolutely cannot throw the baby out with the bath water and go to a purely drug-treatment-based methodology,” McLay said.

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