President-elect Donald Trump chose retired Marine General John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security Wednesday.
Kelly served as the head of the U.S. Southern Command, a posting that gave him oversight of U.S. security operations for Central America, the Caribbean, and the entirety of South America. Trump settled on Kelly in part for his Southwest border expertise, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
In that role, General Kelly grappled with issues relating to the international illicit drug trade and the flow of narcotics, including heroin and cocaine, from countries in the Southern Hemisphere to markets in the United States.
Donald Trump has said that drugs are coming over the southern border “at a record clip,” and that building a wall along that border will help address the opiate epidemic in places as far away as New England.
Trump’s notions of cross-border drug trafficking aren’t supported by the latest federal data, which show drug seizures falling along the southwest border in recent years. And General Kelly’s own views on the flow of drugs are considerably more nuanced than Trump’s.