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Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the Department of Justice's 2020 National Opioid Summit


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you all for being here.  Thank you for participating in this successful Summit, and all of the work you have been doing.

The opioid crisis is precisely that, a crisis, because it is the deadliest drug challenge in our nation’s history.  But it is also a crisis because these poisons not only tear the individual user apart both mentally and physically, but because they destroy relationships, families, and entire communities.

Under the leadership of President Trump, ending this scourge has been a top priority of the administration and for the Department of Justice.  By working together, we have delivered truly great results for the American people, including declining overdose deaths for the second year in a row.  To do that in the face of the increase of fentanyl is truly a massive achievement.

I am proud of the department’s work in this area.  Last year, the department prosecuted more than 11,000 opioid cases.  Our Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, known as “ARPO,” has charged more than 70 defendants across over a dozen districts, who are collectively responsible for illegally prescribing and distributing more than 40 million pills.  And through Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, or “S.O.S.” – another department initiative – over 300 cases were charged in ten districts with some of the highest overdose death rates in the country.  These are just a few examples of the outstanding work all of you and your colleagues do every day.

The efforts of the people in this room and your colleagues across the country have a very real impact on your fellow citizens and improve people’s lives.  And while there is obviously so much more work to be done, we should be encouraged by our achievements. 

Now, it is my distinct pleasure to introduce someone who really needs no introduction – an individual who has used her platform to spearhead the vital effort of fighting the opioid crisis.

Indeed, our First Lady dedicates much of her time to working to protect America’s children from drug addiction.  This is one of the three pillars of her Be Best campaign, which is focused on the wellbeing of young people.      

She has participated in summits, town halls, and other events across the country in order to raise awareness about the devastating and potentially-lethal effects of opioid abuse.  As she movingly noted a few months ago, all kids have hopes and dreams, and their futures will be determined by the choices they make.

The First Lady has also sought to draw attention to the impact that opioids have on infants and the unborn.  She has traveled to West Virginia, where she visited the nation’s first non-profit infant recovery center, and to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she spent time at a children’s hospital to highlight ongoing research involving neonatal abstinence syndrome. 

The First Lady has emphasized that ending the opioid epidemic will require the entire country to come together.  She is absolutely right about that.  She is doing her part to achieve that, and we are grateful that she is here with us today.

Please join me in welcoming First Lady Melania Trump.


The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

Updated March 6, 2020