Senator’s bipartisan INTERDICT Act would provide border agents the latest in chemical screening devices, scientific support to detect and intercept fentanyl and other synthetic opioids
Washington (October 24, 2017) – Today, after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming passed HR.2142, companion legislation to his INTERDICT Act, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) called on Senate Republican leadership to bring to the floor the legislation that will help stanch the flow of illicit fentanyl from Mexico and China into the United States. The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act (S.708) would provide 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. Illicit fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is responsible for the largest increase in drug overdose deaths nationwide in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in 2016, and the number is rising at an exponential rate.
“Customs and Border Protection needs resources now in its battle at the border to stop fentanyl from flooding our communities,” said Senator Markey. “The technology to save countless lives from fentanyl overdoses fits in the palm of a hand. We need Congress to authorize the funds to get these hand-held scanning devices to the front lines of the battle to combat the opioid crisis. I call on my colleagues in the Majority to move this bill through committee and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. I thank Congresswoman Tsongas for her partnership on this legislation and her leadership passing it in the House of Representatives.”
In its draft report, the White House opioid commission recommended key federal agencies increase detection efforts using enhanced technology and more manpower, the primary goals of Senator Markey’s INTERDICT Act. 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.
Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) are original co-sponsors of the INTERDICT Act.