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August 21, 2018, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

The Global Dimensions of Ohio's Opioid Crisis

The Boat House at Confluence Park

679 W. Spring Street | Columbus, OH 43215

Speaker: James A. Walsh | Deputy Assistant Secretary | Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Affairs | U.S. Department of State

Ohio has been described as “ground zero” for the nation’s ongoing drug overdose epidemic.  According to the Center for Disease Control, opioids – prescription and illicit – are the main driver of drug overdose deaths.  Of the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths reported in 2016, opioids were involved in 42,249 of those, and in Ohio alone 4,329 people died from opioid overdose.  The crisis has had devastating effects locally, straining resources across multiple sectors such as public health, social services, addiction treatment, and law enforcement.  After declaring a public health crisis in October 2017, in March President Trump said that he was working with Congress to find $6 billion in new funding for 2018 and 2019 to fight the crisis.

The roots of these overdose deaths have significant global dimensions, and the government’s response to the epidemic includes working with other countries to stem the tide of illicit narcotics coming into the United States.  A recent blog, “The Road Ahead: The U.S. Department of State Confronts the Opioid Crisis” notes that the influx of heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, compel the Administration to work closely with other countries to combat the infiltration of substances that are killing an average of 115 Americans each day.  To this end, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is working with international partners on four key issues: 1) reducing the supply of heroin and other drugs from Mexico; 2) disrupting the flow of synthetic narcotics coming from China; 3) calling for tighter global controls over the synthetic drug market; and 4) equipping law enforcement authorities in other countries with the best tools to combat narcotics trafficking.

What effect are these efforts having on the flow of drugs into the United States?  How has the global community worked together to combat the drug crisis?  Are enough resources being dedicated to the supply side of the epidemic?  Which countries are working most efficiently to combat drug trafficking?  How do political tensions on other issues such as trade and immigration impact our bilateral cooperation in this crisis?  To discuss these and other questions with a top official from the U.S. State Department’s drugs and crime bureau, the Columbus Council on World Affairs invites you to join us on August 21, 2018.

James Walsh - Pic - Opioid

James A. Walsh

Deputy Assistant Secretary

U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

James A. Walsh has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) since January 2015. In his capacity as Senior Bureau Official since December 2017, he is responsible for State Department programs and policies combating drugs and organized crime around the world, as well as support for law enforcement and rule of law. INL currently manages a portfolio of more than $4 billion in more than 90 countries.

From 2015 to 2017, he directed State Department law enforcement and rule of law assistance activities in Europe and Asia (excluding Pakistan and Afghanistan) and oversaw the Department’s Air Wing and INL’s resources. He previously served as the Executive Director/Controller for the bureau where he led several efforts to strengthen criminal justice assistance programs. Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Walsh worked in the private sector for five years supporting Fortune 500 companies. He also served nearly eight years in the U.S. Army where he had several overseas deployments leading aviation units.

James A. Walsh was born and raised in Northern Indiana. He is a career member of the Senior Executive Service, has a bachelor’s degree from West Point, and a master’s degree in business administration from Bowie State University. Mr. Walsh received the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award in 2017.