Today, on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we remember those we have lost to the drug abuse epidemic, lift up and pray for those struggling with addiction, and reaffirm our steadfast resolve to dismantle the criminal networks that spread the drugs that are poisoning our loved ones.
In 2016, opioids were involved in the overdose deaths of 116 Americans on average each day. An increasing number of opioid overdose deaths involve fentanyl and other highly potent synthetic opioids, which are flowing across our borders. The criminals who traffic these substances into our communities present a threat to public safety and national security. Over the past several years, trafficking by transnational criminal networks and cartels has contributed to a deadly drug overdose crisis and a rise in violent crimes.
My Administration is aggressively cracking down on these illicit trafficking networks and working with our international partners to bring swift justice to these criminals wherever they operate. In 2017, Customs and Border Protection seized over 1,100 pounds of fentanyl—nearly three times the amount seized in 2016. In addition, last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested criminal aliens with over 76,000 charges and convictions for dangerous drug crimes, and the Department of Justice prosecuted more than 3,000 defendants for opioid-related crimes.
This year, my Administration is expanding its efforts to combat drug demand and the opioid crisis through the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand. As a part of this initiative, we are dedicating more resources to educating Americans about the dangers of opioids and other drugs. We are also interrupting the supply of illicit narcotics by cracking down on illicit drug supply chains that are devastating American communities. Further, we are redoubling our efforts to save lives by expanding access to evidence-based treatment and recovery support services. We have worked with Congress to secure at least $6 billion in new funding in 2018 and 2019 for these and other lifesaving efforts.
Today, we harden our resolve to bring justice to drug traffickers and ultimately to end the scourge of drug abuse. Together, with our partners at home and abroad, we will save lives and restore hope for families plagued by the devastation of drug addiction.