WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) that aims to halt the flow of illicit fentanyl into the U.S. is gaining bipartisan support in Washington.
Between 2014 and 2015, deaths involving synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl, increased by 72%, taking more than 9,500 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Illicit fentanyl from Mexico, China and other nations around the world is creating a deadly crisis in Wisconsin and around the country. The INTERDICT Act, led by Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), would provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection tools such as hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids
“The growing crisis of fentanyl and opioid abuse is hurting families and taking lives at alarming rates both in Wisconsin and across our country,” Baldwin said. “We must do more to combat this epidemic. The INTERDICT Act will help ensure that Customs and Border Protection officers have the tools they need to help stop fentanyl from entering our communities.”
This month, Senator Baldwin held a roundtable in Milwaukee on the fentanyl crisis. Senator Baldwin brought together health care providers, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner and other Wisconsin groups and individuals working on the front lines to combat this crisis to discuss how illicit fentanyl is impacting Wisconsin. In 2016, Milwaukee County saw 97 deaths related to fentanyl – an increase of 223% from 2015.
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.
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. 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.