WASHINGTON, DC – The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY20 includes targeted fentanyl sanctions for illicit traffickers from China and Mexico, helping to curb the amount of the dangerously potent pain reliever, thanks to U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and several colleagues.
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is classified as a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe or chronic pain. It is most commonly manufactured in China and shipped to the United States through the mail or smuggled through ports or across international borders. Drug dealers often mix fentanyl with heroin and cocaine, often without the user’s knowledge, to make the drugs more potent, according to Reed’s office.
Rhode Island has lost more than 650 people to overdose because of drugs mixed with fentanyl, a statement from the Senator’s office noted.
According to state Health Department data published on preventoverdoseri.org, the number of overdose deaths in Rhode Island related to illicit fentanyl has increased by almost 30-fold since 2009. In 2018, over 70 percent of overdose deaths involved illicit fentanyl.
This bipartisan provision to the NDAA will help hold China and other nations accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor its commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal. Additionally, this provision of the NDAA will provide the U.S. government with additional resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries to dismantle the synthetic drug trade and stop the rising rates of fentanyl overdose deaths, according to Reed’s statement.
“The provision in the defense bill will ensure foreign countries do a better job of going after illicit fentanyl producers in their own countries, and will use targeted sanctions to hold them accountable for doing so,” said Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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