May 07, 2018

Senator Hassan Visits U.S.-Mexico Border, Mexico City to Assess Drug Interdiction Efforts

Senator Hassan Met with DEA and CBP Agents, Mexican Officials to Discuss Strengthening Partnerships to Combat Opioid Crisis

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, recently returned from an official visit to the U.S-Mexico border, where she evaluated firsthand the efforts underway to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs, such as fentanyl, that make their way to New Hampshire and communities across the country.

During her five-day trip, Senator Hassan met with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents on the ground in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, to assess their efforts to stop the flow of fentanyl across the border and discuss how Congress can better support them in detecting, intercepting, and halting the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

“With 76 percent of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2017 involving fentanyl, we must do more to disrupt the trafficking of this lethal drug, including smuggling by Mexican cartels,” Senator Hassan said. “Over the course of the trip, I witnessed firsthand the challenges our law enforcement officials at the U.S.-Mexico border face every day as they work to detect, intercept, and halt the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs across the border. It’s clear that we need more border patrol personnel, improved technology, and better infrastructure such as roads, fencing, and upgraded facilities – and that we must strengthen partnerships with Mexico to stop cross-border narcotics trafficking. However, we also know that we can’t just enforce our way out of this crisis, and we must also continue strengthening prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts.”

Senator Hassan also traveled to Mexico City, Mexico, where she met with a number of Mexican officials including National Security Commissioner Renato Sales, who oversees drug enforcement efforts, and Undersecretary Carlos Sada, the top official in the foreign ministry focused on North America. In her meetings, Senator Hassan highlighted the importance of strengthening existing partnerships with Mexico focused on combating the opioid epidemic and enhancing national security.

“I also appreciated the opportunity to meet with officials in Mexico City to discuss the importance of strengthening our partnerships to combat drug trafficking and to protect national security in order to help keep Granite Staters and Americans healthy and safe,” Senator Hassan said. “There are a number of key steps we must take to build upon existing partnerships with Mexico, including supporting efforts to expand the Mexican federal police force by helping train new officers, and getting the new Mexican Administration up to speed quickly on ongoing efforts to counter fentanyl and drug trafficking after the Mexican elections this year.”

As part of her efforts to strengthen support for law enforcement on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, Senator Hassan cosponsored the bipartisan International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act to help ensure that CBP has the tools necessary to detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids, which the President signed into law. Senator Hassan also helped introduce the bipartisan Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through the postal service to drug traffickers in the United States.

Last week, a report published in the journal JAMA confirmed that synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have surpassed prescription opioids as the top killer in the opioid epidemic.

 

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