Sam Quinones

"I think opiates elected Donald Trump," opines award-winning journalist Sam Quinones (22:40). Sam chatted with Skip and Kate, covering his career path in journalism, the opioid epidemic, Trump’s election and presidency, and border security.

Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic. Dreamland was selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by publications including the Seattle Times, Boston Globe, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Before writing Dreamland, Quinones was a reporter with the L.A. Times from 2004-2014 focusing on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, and the border.

Quote preview: 
“One day I find a series of stories over six months of people dying of black tar heroin in the town of Huntington, WV. That pushed a number of buttons. First of all, black tar heroin is only made in Mexico, and it...doesn’t cross the Mississippi river…[West Virginia] has the lowest percentage of foreign-born people of any state in the union, so what is all this black tar heroin doing in a state with no Mexicans in quantities large enough to kill a dozen people in six months when they’d had one overdose in ten years?” (11:30)

“And then [law enforcement] says: “and [all the drug dealers are] from the same town.” And I come forward in my chair and I go “really? Which one?” I had this overwhelming surge of knowledge that there was a small town somewhere in Mexico where everybody came to Columbus, OH to sell heroin like pizza. It was just a matter of finding it.” (12:45)

“I think Opiates elected Donald Trump. One of the major facts of life in (the areas Trump won) is opioid addiction...Opiates bring with them a fatalism, a negativity...they create a feeling that things are falling apart....There is a dread of the future [in these areas]...he won because those counties swung the states they were in.” (22:10)