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Rubio Highlights Gravity Of Heroin Epidemic, Urgency Needed To Address It

May 26, 2016 | Press Releases

Rubio: “To this day, despite the Administration’s efforts, heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 244 percent between 2007 and the year 2013.” 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, today discussed the heroin epidemic sweeping across Florida and the United States and the consequences it will have on future generations if left unaddressed. Rubio made his remarks during a hearing he chaired on “Cartels and the U.S. Heroin Epidemic: Combating Drug Violence and Public Health Crisis.”

“The heroin epidemic, drug war, and fight against drug violence are unfortunately becoming part of everyday events in our society,” Rubio said. “It is our duty to find the best possible avenues and allocate resources to provide the best tools to equip those on the front lines to fight this public health crisis.

“It is my hope that today’s hearing will shed light on the consequences that this epidemic will have in our society and future generations if left unaddressed, and not given the proper attention,” Rubio concluded.

Earlier this year, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) Rubio cosponsored overwhelmingly passed the Senate. Last week, Rubio met with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs in Orlando, Florida to discuss the heroin epidemic sweeping through Central Florida. In a media availability following the meeting, Rubio stressed the importance of cutting off the drug supply from the Mexican border, raising awareness of the disease and getting those who are addicted the proper treatment.

Below are graphics highlighting “Areas of influence of Major Mexican Transnational Crime Associations,” and can be credited to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA):

A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below. A video is available here, and a broadcast quality video available for download is available here.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights Hearing
Washington, D.C.
May 26, 2016
https://youtu.be/eTrmAUcDHr8

Senator Marco Rubio: “Drug cartels operate out of countries in the Western Hemisphere, and they do so by using sophisticated distribution systems that move narcotics into and across the United States.

“Heroin supplied by these cartels has created a public health epidemic and fueled drug violence across this country.

“The heroin epidemic, drug war, and fight against drug violence are unfortunately becoming part of everyday events in our society.

“It is our duty to find the best possible avenues and allocate resources to provide the best tools to equip those on the front lines to fight this public health crisis.

“We need to examine what the United States, Mexico, and our other regional partners are doing to cooperatively address the rise in heroin and drug trafficking.

“Promoting the efficacy and proper execution of U.S. initiatives to stop the spread of heroin and combat the drug cartels should be one of our top priorities.

“Here’s some facts:

“One of the primary culprits in this fight is called Fentanyl. It’s a synthetic opioid that is 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin and may be used to treat pain associated with advanced cancer;

“While Fentanyl is legally prescribed in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that most cases of fentanyl-related overdoses are associated with non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. This type is used as a substitute for heroin or mixed with heroin and other drugs, sometimes without the user’s knowledge.

“In 2015, the DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reported that Mexico and China have been cited as the primary source countries, though some analogs of fentanyl are manufactured in China.

“These supplies are often trafficked into the United States across the Southwest border or delivered through mail couriers. Transnational Criminal Organizations also use Florida as the point of arrival for South American cocaine and heroin. Much of the illegally diverted and produced fentanyl is found in the same U.S. markets where white powder heroin is found.

“According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the estimated number of individuals who used heroin was 914,000 people in 2014.

“In addition, there about 586,000 individuals, or basically 0.2 percent of the 12 and older population, had a heroin use disorder in 2014.

“While there has been an increase of heroin overdoses and heroin-related deaths across the United States, the Midwest and Northeast regions have been areas of particular concern.

“To this day, despite the Administration’s efforts, heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 244 percent between 2007 and the year 2013.

“The U.S. has responded to such findings by launching the Heroin Response Strategy, leveraging upon the fifteen High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas across the country.

“Mexico, our regional partner, has displayed willingness to cooperate with U.S. authorities. But despite these operations, the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report estimates that less than 2 percent of cocaine that comes through Mexico is seized by the country’s authorities.

“Under the Mérida Initiative, Congress has provided billions in funds to the Mexican government to improve security and the rule of law, and I applaud the continued efforts of the Mexican government to continue its drug crop eradication efforts and to arrest drug kingpins, however, we’re still far from the finish-line.

“I think the Congress can continue to work in constructive ways to promote legislation addressing opioid abuse. I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bipartisan bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate. I also applaud the House for working to address this issue, and I hope soon we will be able to send this legislation to the President’s desk.

“It is my hope that today’s hearing will shed light on the consequences that this epidemic will have in our society and future generations if left unaddressed, and not given the proper attention.

“I am optimistic this hearing will serve as an opportunity to learn about the Administration’s priorities in combating the heroin epidemic and drug violence, and I hope you will address these issues in your testimony as well.”

Rubio: [Are] the opiates being grown or produced, in the case of fentanyl in Mexico, being sold anywhere else in the world or should we basically assume that virtually all of it that’s being grown there, you can see if from the camera pictures that are being taken, all of that is being headed to a city near you in the United States?

Mr. Kemp Chester, Associate Director for the National Heroin Coordination Group: “That is the assumption we make Senator, that’s correct.”