U.S. lawmakers target foreign cartels in fight against fentanyl trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There’s a new effort in Congress to fight the fentanyl crisis.


Lawmakers in Washington have proposed a law that would go after the cartels that profit from the distribution of the lethal drug in America.

The move comes at a time when fentanyl is hitting communities particularly hard, becoming the single deadliest drug in the country.

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The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show an estimated 71,000 people died from overdosing on synthetic opioids in 2021. That’s an increase from the previous year, making the issue a major focus on Capitol Hill.

“This is a declaration of war on these cartels,” Democrat from Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said of the proposed legislation.

Brown is teaming up with other members of congress from both sides of the aisle to go after the cartels that supply and profit from the distribution of fentanyl.

The Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Defense Off Fentanyl Act, or “FEND Off Fentanyl” Act, just introduced this week, would target suppliers in China and Mexico, block cartels from their assets, and sanction money laundering.

It also targets the drug’s chemical suppliers in China and Mexico and goes after individuals who profit from it.

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“Unless you stop the drug lords in Mexico, you stop the Chinese from feeding that pipeline in the billions of dollars they make…we’ll never solve this,” Sen. Brown said.

Some Republicans are also on board. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) says passing the bill would “cut off the deadly flow of fentanyl at the source.”

At the U.S. border with Mexico, Customs and Border Protection officers say they’re routinely seizing an overwhelming amount of fentanyl.

Homeland Security investigators say seizing the drugs is just one part of the answer, and that the cartels are only concerned about the money coming in to them from the United States.

“They’re looking to make millions and millions of dollars, which they are,” Homeland Security Investigations Agent Andrew Montijo said.

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The “FEND Off Fentanyl” Act would require more money for law enforcement to go after the cartels. It’s not clear exactly how much is needed or whether it would slow down progress to get approved by Congress.

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