In just the first three months of 2019, drug overdose has claimed the lives of more than 600 people across the state. Government leaders say that’s due in large part to the infiltration of the potent synthetic opioid known as fentanyl. It’s 50 times more lethal than heroin, and it’s primarily coming in to the U.S. from China through legal points of entry.
“So far this year, we’ve lost 63 residents to an overdose. We’ve had 147 Narcan deployments,” said Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli.
“We can’t simply take China’s word for it when they say they’ll crack down on fentanyl manufacturers,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.
Menendez is unveiling bipartisan legislation called the Fentanyl Sanctions Act to hold China, the world’s largest producer of the drug, accountable.
“Our legislation would devote nearly a billion dollars over the next five years to catching the rotten actors running this murderous marketplace. From fentanyl manufacturers to traffickers to financial institutions,” he said.
Among other items, the legislation puts sanctions on any manufacturers who knowingly provide the synthetic drug to those traffickers. It also gives money to law enforcement and intelligence agencies to help combat this. It also creates a commission to oversee their effort.”
“In 2017, fentanyl contributed to nearly 40% of the 72,000 fatal overdoses that took place across America,” said Menendez. “In contrary to President Trump’s claims, building a wall at our southern border isn’t a real solution.”
In June, the Port of Philadelphia was the sight of a major fentanyl bust. That’s where inspectors found 110 pounds of the drug hidden on a Chinese cargo ship. It had a street value of over $1.7 million.
Menendez says with fiscal hawks like Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey co-sponsoring the bill, he’s confident it’ll move forward with the needed funding.