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Rubio, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Reduce Flow of Illicit Fentanyl into U.S.

Mar 23, 2017 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Edward Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today introduced the INTERDICT Act, legislation that would help reduce the flow of illicit fentanyl from Mexico, China and other nations around the world into the United States by providing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tools such as hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids.

“Fentanyl is a leading contributor to the opioid crisis that is wreaking havoc, destroying families and taking lives across our state and nation,” said Rubio. “The federal government can do more to stop fentanyl from entering our country from abroad, and this legislation would help us accomplish that goal.”

“Illicit fentanyl being trafficked into the United States is an immediate and grave threat to the American people,” said Markey. “Customs and Border Protection is a critical line of defense in the battle to stop fentanyl from flooding our communities, and we need to give it the latest technological tools to detect and intercept this deadly drug. I thank Senators Rubio, Brown and Capito for their partnership on this legislation and look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to fight this scourge of opioid addiction.” 

“Fentanyl has taken far too many lives across Ohio, and this is one concrete step we can take right now to help stop it from entering our communities and destroying any more Ohio families,” said Brown. “It’s not enough to treat overdoses as they happen – we must do more to stem the tide of deadly synthetic opioids flooding the country. We know hi-tech screening works and we need to give CBP agents the tools they need to keep fentanyl from entering the U.S.”

“As the devastating opioid epidemic continues to harm communities in West Virginia and across the county, the INTERDICT Act is a needed to step to help stop the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids across the border,” said Capito. “I am proud to join with my colleagues to introduce this important legislation that will help save lives and curb the drug crisis.”

Mexico is the primary source for illicit fentanyl trafficked into the United States, while distributors in China are the principal source of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the drug, as well as a source for finished-product illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, which are often shipped to the United States through the mail and express consignment carriers.

In 2016, CBP seized nearly 200 pounds of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids like fentanyl, primarily from along the southwest border. This is a 25-fold increase over seizures in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, deaths involving synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl, increased by 72 percent, taking more than 9,500 lives.

Specifically, the INTERDICT Act:

  • Ensures that CBP will have additional portable chemical screening devices available at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities, and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
  • Provides CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities – including scientists available during all operational hours – to interpret screening test results from the field. 
  • Authorizes – based on CBP guidance – the appropriation of $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for support during all operational hours.