Brown presses Biden administration on its strategy to fight fentanyl trafficking

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 16, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, called on the Biden Administration to detail its strategy to address the role the governments of China and Mexico play in illicit fentanyl trafficking. 

In a letter, Brown called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to lay out specific benchmarks for the administration’s strategy for combating fentanyl trafficking and the opioid crisis and ensure accountability from China and Mexico. 

Brown specifically calls on the administration to lay out the outcomes they are expecting from diplomatic talks with the Chinese and Mexican governments and how the Treasury Department’s new Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force will measure its goals and objectives and effectively combat the fentanyl crisis. 

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Brown also calls on Treasury to do more to crack down on Chinese actors who have come to play an increasing role in laundering money for Mexican cartels, including the principal distributors of fentanyl to the United States. 

“The international trafficking of fentanyl and fentanyl precursors constitutes an extraordinary threat to our national security and is a national emergency,” Brown said. “Task forces alone are insufficient to curb the flow of deadly fentanyl into the United States.  Rather, it is critical that the Administration define benchmarks and metrics to assess the effectiveness of its strategy for combating fentanyl trafficking and the opioid crisis and ensure accountability from the Governments of China and Mexico.” 

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 379 million doses of fentanyl—enough to kill every American. In 2021, nearly 107,000 Americans died from an overdose, and 65 percent of overdose deaths were caused by fentanyl. The supply of illicit fentanyl making its way into communities across Ohio is facilitated by the chemical suppliers in China drug cartels in Mexico. 

Brown is leading the fight to address the fentanyl crisis, most notably through his Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act. 

Brown’s legislation is a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill that imposes new sanctions and anti-money laundering penalties targeting the illicit fentanyl supply chain, from the chemical suppliers in China to the cartels that produce and transport the drugs in from Mexico. \

The legislation passed unanimously out of the Banking and Housing Committee earlier this year and it passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in July. The Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Officers, the National Sheriff’s Association, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association have called for the passage of the legislation.