Brown Outlines Bipartisan Legislation to Keep Fentanyl Out Of U.S.

Brown’s Bill Would Provide Law Enforcement with Additional Screening Equipment, Lab Resources to Detect Deadly Opioid before It Enters U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today outlined bipartisan legislation he introduced with U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. The INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015.

During his weekly news conference call, Brown was joined by Jay McDonald, President of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, and Chief Deputy Rick Minerd from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

“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.” 

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The Senators developed the legislation in consultation with CBP based on their guidance about the best way to way to cut down on fentanyl entering the country.

At some port locations along the southern border, CBP is successfully using hi-tech chemical screening devices to safely detect fentanyl entering the U.S. through mail or ports of entry. But the agency does not have enough screening equipment to cover all ports of entry nor enough scientists and lab support to interpret the results.

Brown’s bill would authorize $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24x7 lab support. The money will be used to:

  • Provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
  • Provide CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities — including scientists available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field. 

Providing CBP with more screening devices and lab support will not only stop more Fentanyl from coming into the U.S., it will also protect more agents in the field from exposure to dangerous substances.

“Fentanyl and carfentanil are killing thousands of Ohioans, in fact it kills more people in Ohio than car crashes. Law enforcement is finding fentanyl and carfentanil in other drugs beside heroin, as drug traffickers are looking for ways to expand their sales of these extremely dangerous drugs. Most of the fentanyl found in the United States is sourced from China and shipped into the United States or to Mexico.   If shipped to Mexico, it is repackaged and trafficked into the United States. Stopping the flow of fentanyl and carfentanil into the United States will save lives, there is no doubt about that,” said McDonald.

“Illicit drug manufactures abroad continue to find even more dangerous ways to exploit Americans with substance abuse disorders.  Law enforcement officials are desperately searching for tools to respond to the unprecedented threat of rogue distributors, in places like China and Mexico, from conveying deadly substances such as Fentanyl and Carfentanil onto the streets of U.S. neighborhoods,” said Minerd.