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Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Reps. Langevin, King, McCaskill introduce legislation to fight opioid trafficking

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U.S. Reps. James Langevin (D-RI) and Peter King (R-NY) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) recently introduced the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act.

The bill would enable Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a Joint Task Force to improve coordination of the interdiction of illicit fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States. It encourages DHS to collaborate with private sector entities, such as parcel carriers, on creating the task force.

“The opioid emergency gripping our nation is an incredibly complex problem that requires collaboration across agencies and our private sector partners to stem the tide of this epidemic,” Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. “Rhode Islanders and Americans across the country are looking for solutions to prevent the trafficking of these opioids and reduce the human toll of this crisis. I’m proud to join Representative King and Senator McCaskill in introducing a bill that will help the Department in its effort to track, interdict, and prevent the proliferation of these highly addictive and deadly narcotics in our communities.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security is currently authorized to create Joint Task Forces for various purposes related to securing the United States’ land and maritime borders.

The bill would expand those authorizations to allow task forces established to combat fentanyl and other opioids entering the United States.

“Joint Task Forces require agencies to put their heads together in order to make a real impact—it’s a valuable tool that can and should be brought to bear on this ongoing national public health crisis,” McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “Communities and families across Missouri are being ravaged, and I’ll continue to support any tool we’ve got to help address this epidemic.”

In 2016, approximately 42,000 people in the United States died due to opioid-related drug overdoses. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report studied opioid overdoses in 10 states and found that more than half of the deaths were related to illicitly produced fentanyl. Ninety percent of illegally produced fentanyl is manufactured in China.