Fact-checker debunks Trump’s ‘suspiciously precise’ statistics about illegal drugs
President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Phoenix, photo by Gage Skidmore.

Former President Donald Trump recently rattled off a series of what one fact-checker calls "suspiciously precise" statistics to justify calling for the death penalty for drug dealers.

The former president has frequently called for capital punishment to be used for drug offenses, and Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler debunked the baseless statistics he offered ahead of the midterm elections at rallies across the country -- such as his claim that drug cartels had seen their profits jump 2,500 percent since the end of his administration.

"The illicit drug business can be extraordinarily profitable, especially when making synthetic opioids," Kessler wrote. "Fentanyl-type products have an inexpensive and easy-to-make formula. But Trump offers a suspiciously precise statistic — 2,500 percent — for an industry that does not publish revenue figures and whose financials can only be roughly estimated. Moreover, price increases often happen at the retail level — north of the border — and do not return to the drug cartels in Mexico."

Trump also claimed that drug dealers each kill an average of 500 Americans, which Kessley noted was impossible to quantify and suggested there were only 1,200 drug dealers in the U.S. based on the 600,000 people who died from drug overdoses between 2010 and 2020 -- and he assured supporters that his draconian measure would cut crime by about 75 percent.

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"The death penalty has not been shown to be effective in reducing crime or murder rates in the United States, according to research — in part because it is applied so rarely that researchers cannot easily measure the impact," Kessler wrote. "Trump’s estimate of a 75 percent reduction appears to have been conjured out of thin air."