Opioid crisis: Donald Trump calls for death penalty for drug dealers

US President Donald Trump. (Photo: AP/PTI)
President Donald Trump called for drug dealers to receive the death penalty in some cases as part of his administration’s effort to address the opioid crisis.

The Department of Justice “will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers, where appropriate under current law,’’ the White House said in a fact sheet released on Sunday.. The White House also floated several other initiatives to combat opioid overdoses that killed more than 40,000 people in the U.S. in 2016 -- five times higher than the rate in 1999.

Trump has talked in the past about his desire to impose capital punishment for drug dealers, arguing that some are responsible for hundreds of deaths. It’s unclear if Trump’s directive will actually be implemented, as even routine death penalty judgments in murder cases often face years of litigation.

“I don’t think we should play games,’’ Trump said earlier this month during a political rally in Pennsylvania. “These people are killing our kids and they’re killing our families, and we have to do something.’’

Trump travels to New Hampshire on Monday to roll out the new plan in one of the states hardest hit by opioid addiction and death. Also included in the initiative: tougher criminal penalties for trafficking in fentanyl, a frequently-abused pain medication; new public outreach efforts to deter drug use; and additional restrictions on federal funding for opioid treatments.