Combating the Opioid Epidemic
Fentanyl and synthetic opioid overdoses caused over 50,000 deaths last year alone in the United States and they continue to scourge communities nationwide. This epidemic is personal and doesn’t discriminate based on age, location or wealth – it tears families apart and will keep plaguing our nation until we are able to eradicate it completely.
These deadly drugs are often smuggled over our southern border as traffickers look to sell them in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) plays a crucial role in keeping drugs out of our country, and order to aid in their fight, we must equip federal agents and law enforcement personnel with the tools needed to execute their jobs thoroughly and efficiently.
Upon CBP’s recommendation for improved drug detection methods, Congress invested $705 million in Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology that allows agents to better screen vehicles crossing from Mexico into the U.S. Since a manual inspection of every vehicle is unrealistic, this state of the art x-ray technology provides law enforcement with the capability to scan every vehicle for even trace amounts of illicit drugs.
To ensure your taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly in this endeavor, I wrote to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf requesting an update on the implementation and use of NII at the southern border and the amount of remaining funds within DHS specifically for the project. I was pleased to quickly hear back from DHS officials that all funds have been appropriately allocated in their mission to protect Americans, and this critical technology is currently being tested to ensure it is effective and will transform the way we do business at ports of entry along the border.
Technology like NII will make patrolling the border safer for officers and we must continue using every resource possible to assist them. We still have a long way to go in the battle against opioids, but I will keep fighting until the day the epidemic no longer has control over our communities.
To find locations where you can safely dispose of unwanted medications year round or during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 24th of this year, please visit takebackday.dea.gov.