ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page just returned from another trip to the US-Mexico border.
He met with law enforcement leaders there to better understand how illegal drugs end up here in the Triad.
It's the fourth trip to the border Sheriff Page has made in the last 11 years. He said in that time, he's seen drugs like heroin and fentanyl becoming more and more common in our area.
"There are people that are dying in Rockingham County and that are overdosing and dying across the state," Page said.
Sheriff Page said most of the illegal drugs brought into the United States come through areas like the part of the Arizona desert he visited. He said that's not where the drugs stay.
"Arizona and North Carolina have something in common. We both have coyotes and we both have Mexican drug cartels in our communities and they do bad things," Page said.
He cites a recent Alamance County shootout between cartel members and people who tried to rob a stash house as an example of the violence that travels across the country to our area.
"(The border is) 2,000 miles away or less. In two days travel time, people that are moving drugs or moving people - smuggling or trafficking - can be in my county. That's why I care," Page said.
Sheriff Page believes we need a secure border to stop drug crimes here in North Carolina and he believes the federal government will need to step up to make that happen.
"They're doing business as usual and we want to disrupt their business," Page said.
He also said stopping and preventing drug addiction with mental health support and rehabilitation programs could also be part of the solution.
"You can't just arrest your way out of addiction," He said, "When we have somebody that overdoses and needs help we provide information to them and try to connect them to a service."
Sheriff Page plans to continue visiting the border when invited. His hope is to bring more attention to the illegal drug trade and how it affects all of us.
The Rockingham County Sheriff's Office said Page took vacation time for the trip and no tax dollars were spent for the trip.