Latest Sanctions Against Chinese Nationals Highlight Importance of Brown’s Fentanyl Sanctions Legislation

Brown Secured Bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Bill in National Defense Authorization Bill, Which has Passed the Senate

CLEVELAND, OH – The New York Times reported this afternoon that sanctions were imposed on three Chinese nationals who were accused of trafficking illicit, synthetic opioids. Sen. Brown has been fighting over the last year to combat this illicit fentanyl trafficking, as addiction-related deaths have continued to soar in Ohio. This latest action underscores the importance of Brown’s bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, which Brown secured as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in June. The Senate passed the NDAA with this provision included. The House of Representatives passed its own version of the bill, and the two bills will soon be reconciled in a conference committee when Congress returns in September. Brown will continue fighting to ensure this provision is included in any final package.

Brown’s bill would give U.S. officials new sanctions tools to target foreign opioid traffickers in China, Mexico and other countries, and better enable U.S. diplomats and law enforcement officials to maintain pressure on the Chinese government to implement and strictly enforce China’s commitment to treat all forms of illicit fentanyl as illegal.

“On average, 14 Ohioans will die every day in Ohio due to an overdose,” said Brown. “The addiction crisis has taken too many lives and caused too much devastation in Ohio. Our bipartisan bill will provide effective new sanctions tools to help combat the flood of illicit fentanyl coming into the U.S. primarily from China and Mexico, and help provide intelligence and funding to keep these dangerous drugs out of Ohio communities. I will continue fighting to ensure this provision is included in any final legislative package.”

Cities throughout Ohio -- including Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus -- have experienced spikes in suspected overdose deaths this year, and law enforcement officials believe fentanyl is largely to blame.  Earlier this week, the RAND Corporation published a report highlighting the sharp increase in synthetic opioids across the country. According to this report, Ohio had the second highest synthetic opioid death rate in 2017. Brown originally introduced this bill with Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Brown’s Fentanyl Sanctions Act would help crack down on illegal fentanyl coming to Ohio by:

  • Requiring imposition of sanctions on foreign drug traffickers, drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide illicit synthetic opioids to traffickers, individuals or firms operating alone or as part of transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S., and foreign financial institutions and others that knowingly assist such trafficking;
  • Authorizing new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Defense and State, to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids;
  • Urging the President to intensify diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions and to deploy other multilateral measures against foreign opioid traffickers;
  • Establishing a National Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of illicit synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

The fentanyl sanctions follow Brown’s successful efforts to enact his INTERDICT Act into law, which provided U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with additional hi-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S.