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There Have Been 147 Fatal Overdoses In Western NY In 2015; County Health Officials Predict 275 Total By Year’s End – Schumer Bill Will Increase Penalties On Drug Traffickers & Make It A Lot Easier For Long-Arm of U.S. Law To Stop The Import Of Poison To The U.S. 

Since Last Year, Local Treatment Facilities Report Opiate & Heroin Overdoes Are Up Over 480% In Buffalo; Schumer Bill Improves Federal Law Enforcement’s Ability To Go After Drug Traffickers

Schumer: Feds Need New Tools To Prevent Heroin and Opiates From Entering Buffalo 

In light of local treatment facilities reporting opiate and heroin overdoses are up 480 percent in Buffalo, today Senator Schumer will visit at Kids Escaping Drugs in Buffalo to launch his push to stem the tide of cross-border drug trafficking, which is a major source of heroin and opioid drugs in the community. Schumer is urging the House of Representatives immediately pass a bill, the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, which could help halt the dramatic increase in opiate and heroin overdoses in Buffalo by making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute drug traffickers who shuttle drugs over the border into Buffalo.

“With heroin- and opiate-related deaths and overdoses skyrocketing in Western New York, it is clear that much more needs to be done to turn the tide against this scourge, which is threatening to tear apart families and communities across Upstate,” said Schumer. “That is why I am urging my colleagues in the House to take the Senate’s lead and quickly pass the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, which will give the Department of Justice stronger tools to go after these international traffickers abroad and stop the flow of these poisons into the U.S.”

Schumer said that with the recent spate of heroin and opioid overdoses in Western New York, it has become clear that more must be done to stem the drug trafficking efforts that allow addicts to get their hands on these harmful substances. According to the Erie County Health Department, there have been 147 fatal opioid-related overdoses in 2015 alone, with Erie County health officials predicting 275 fatalities by year's end. According to a Buffalo Newsreport, the number of deaths countywide last year was 128, meaning this year’s totals have already surpassed the amount of overdoses in 2014. The Erie County Health Department also reported that between 2012 and 2014 there were 331 fatal opiate overdoses. In light of these alarming statistics and the fact that local treatment facilities are reporting opiate and heroin overdoses are up 480 percent in Buffalo, Schumer is pushing his colleagues in Congress to pass legislation that would seek to crack down on cross-border drug trafficking, which is a major source of the heroin and opiates Western New Yorkers are seeing flood into their communities.

Schumer explained that this bill will help the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) build cases against extraterritorial drug traffickers who bring these harmful substances and precursor chemicals – like cold medicines, including pseudoephedrine that are eventually used to manufacture methamphetamines – across the border to make illegal drugs. This has led to the recent scourge of drug-related crime, overdoses and deaths in Western New York and throughout Upstate New York.

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, which was recently passed by the Senate, would effectively give the DOJ the authority to prosecute drug traffickers from foreign countries in the U.S. This legislation not only ensures those who produce and traffic illegal drugs across the border are prosecuted, but also allows the DOJ to apply criminal penalties to traffickers from other countries who ship these precursor chemicals into the U.S. for the purposes of manufacturing illegal substances. Schumer is therefore urging his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this bill without delay.

Schumer said that, currently, law enforcement must prove a foreign drug kingpin’s direct knowledge of the trafficking before they can prosecute the individual. However, this legislation improves federal, state and local law enforcements’ abilities to go after drug traffickers who manufacture drugs or transport chemicals they reasonably believe will be used to make illegal drugs here in the United States. Schumer said this could help quell the amount of drug overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, in Western New York. Schumer said the disturbingly high increase in the number of both overdoses and deaths further proves that this trend is not going away unless something is done to crack down on drug trafficking, the source of where local addicts are getting these deadly substances.

Schumer said this legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to prohibit the manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance in schedule I or II, flunitrazepam, or a listed chemical by individuals having reasonable cause to believe that such substance or chemical will be unlawfully imported into the United States or into waters within 12 miles of the U.S. coast. Schumer said this would benefit areas like Western New York where, according to Horizon Health in Buffalo, the median age upon admission to a substance abuse program is 28 years old and only getting younger. So far this year, Horizon Health treated more than 1,000 active clients in the Buffalo area for opioid dependence. Of these active clients, 645 – or 64 percent – were ages 30 and under. Schumer said this is evidence that young people are disproportionally affected by the opioid epidemic.

Finally, Horizon Health also reported that, among all opioid-dependent outpatient discharges in 2014, 58 percent of clients reported previous hospitalization or inpatient treatment for their Substance Use Disorder. Meanwhile, 70 percent of this population reported previous outpatient treatment for the Substance Use Disorder. Schumer said these statistics show heroin and opioid-related addiction and crime is not going away, meaning these drugs and chemicals that will eventually be used to produce illegal substances must be cut off at their source – starting with the foreign traffickers who bring them across the border.

Schumer was joined by joined by representatives from Kids Escaping Drugs and Erie County health officials and Erie County Narcotics Chief Alan Rozanski.

“Our number one priority is to keep the kids in our neighborhoods safe and all drugs out of their hands.  We welcome this effort by Senator Schumer that will give law enforcement the tools necessary to keep our kids safe and drug free,” said Robin Clouden, Executive Director of Kids Escaping Drugs. 

Schumer helped pass the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act in the Senate, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). This legislation was passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent on October 7, and has moved to the House of Representatives.