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Senators Hassan, Lankford Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Drug Cartels by Increasing Southbound Border Inspections

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and James Lankford (R-OK), both members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to increase inspections of traffic going from the U.S. to Mexico, which would help combat the flow of illicit firearms and money that fuel drug cartels.

“Shutting down drug cartels requires disrupting the supply chains that bring illicit guns and cartel profits from the U.S. to Mexico,” Senator Hassan said. “By significantly increasing inspections of southbound traffic at the Southern border, this bipartisan legislation will crack down on fentanyl and other drug trafficking and help save lives. I will continue working to address the opioid crisis that is devastating New Hampshire and urge my colleagues to join this important legislation.”

“US Customs and Border Protection doesn’t currently have the resources they need to stop the flow of guns and money going south from the US to the cartels in Mexico,” Senator Lankford said. “With all the resources tied up dealing with the flow of people and drugs coming from the south into the US, we need to provide border law enforcement the additional people and technology they need to help address the flow of criminal activity going south from the US into Mexico.”

Specifically, the bipartisan Enhancing Southbound Inspections to Combat Cartels Act would:

  1. Require that at least 20 percent of southbound vehicles are inspected, to the extent practicable
  2. Authorize at least 500 additional Customs and Border Protection officers to assist with southbound inspections
  3. Authorize at least 100 additional Homeland Security Investigations agents
  4. Authorize 50 additional x-ray inspection systems for southbound inspections

This legislation is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing efforts to support border security. The Senator has visited the U.S.-Mexico border three times as a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and earlier this year, she visited Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras as part of a bipartisan Congressional Delegation trip where she spoke with foreign officials about economic and public safety priorities – in particular the need to crack down on fentanyl and other drug trafficking. To address the needs that she has heard on these trips and in other briefings and hearings, she has worked to increase funding for border security. Senator Hassan also worked with her colleagues to pass into law the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which has provided Customs and Border Protection with additional tools to help detect and intercept fentanyl and other illegal synthetic opioids. Additionally, the Senator successfully worked to secure her bipartisan measure in the 2021 year-end funding bill to hold countries such as China accountable for facilitating America’s fentanyl-fueled substance misuse crisis. And earlier this year, Senator Hassan joined her colleagues on both sides of the aisle in introducing legislation to direct Customs and Border Protection to update its policies in order to help border personnel stop drug smuggling.