WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan spoke about the need to crack down on international drug trafficking and deadly counterfeit pills during a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
Cracking Down on Fentanyl Trafficking from China to Mexico to the U.S.
Senator Hassan addressed the importance of cracking down on international fentanyl trafficking.
“Fentanyl and fentanyl precursor chemicals are often manufactured in China and then shipped to Mexico… Mexican drug trafficking organizations then process the fentanyl and fentanyl precursors and smuggle them into the United States,” said Senator Hassan. “In return, Mexican drug trafficking organizations often launder their money through Chinese networks by bank transfers, smuggled bulk cash, or even cryptocurrency.”
Celina Realuyo, an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, spoke about the need to expand human, financial, and technological resources to “go after the money, and then go after the traffickers.”
“These are large networks, and they’re so innovative—that’s something that we saw during the pandemic, is how quickly they were able to adapt,” said Realuyo. “This is why we have to actually devote more intelligence resources and law enforcement resources to go after this problem and address this in our bilateral engagement directly with China.”
In 2019, Senator Hassan traveled to China, where she pushed Chinese officials to address fentanyl trafficking. The Senator then worked with her colleagues to address this issue – and the most recent annual defense bill included a bipartisan amendment from Senators Hassan and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to hold China and other bad actors accountable for contributing to America’s fentanyl-fueled opioid crisis. In addition, Senator Hassan has worked across the aisle to get law enforcement officials the tools that they need to intercept drug trafficking through the mail and at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Senator Hassan also addressed the alarming prevalence of fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills that can end up in the hands of Granite Staters and Americans through the black market.
“I come from New Hampshire, which has been very, very hard hit by the fentanyl epidemic in particular. But in my state and all across the country, we are seeing a rise in counterfeit pills that are laced with illicit drugs, and they are almost indistinguishable from legitimate medication,” said Senator Hassan.
Michael McDaniel, Director of Houston’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program within the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), pointed to New Hampshire and other Northern states as examples of areas that have successfully developed innovative strategies that are focused on treatment and prevention to tackle substance misuse.
"It was the Chief of Police sitting there with federal people in your state, they were actually saying 'we gotta think out of the box' and they actually developed strategies,” said McDaniel. “We're working with treatment and prevention more than we ever have.”
Senator Hassan responded, “Law enforcement has been extraordinary, both in their efforts to combat the cartels and the supply, but also in understanding the seed of the demand and really urging us to do more treatment and recovery.”
Senator Hassan’s questioning follows up on her earlier push to the DEA to combat the dangerous rise in counterfeit pills after WMUR reported that these drugs were being heavily distributed in New Hampshire.