05.05.17

SCHUMER: OPIOID CRISIS STILL RAGING ON LONG ISLAND; NOW EXACERBATED BY FENTANYL; SENATOR PUSHES NEW PLAN TO DELIVER MORE BORDER AGENTS, RAPID TEST LABS & OTHER HIGH-TECH TOOLS TO INTERCEPT ILLICIT FENTANYL FROM CHINA & MEXICO BEFORE IT HITS THE STREETS

Bipartisan Bill Will Provide Feds With More Resources To Support Locals, Including Additional Border Agents And Scientists, Drug Test Labs, Training & New Portable Devices To Detect & Intercept Illicit Fentanyl And Other Synthetic Opioids 

Senator Says Long Island Has Experienced An Explosion Of Drug Use Including Fentanyl-Laced Heroin; In 2016, At Least 233 People on Long Island Were Killed By Fentanyl 

Schumer: We Must Choke Off The Source Of Fentanyl & Its Spread On Long Island ---This Plan Will Help

Standing at the Incorporated Village of Floral Park Village Hall , Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced his support for a new, bipartisan plan that would help cutoff the flow of illicit fentanyl from China, Mexico, and other countries into Long Island and across the United States. With fentanyl continuing its sprint onto the streets of Long Island, Schumer launched a major push for the “International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act,” also known as the INTERDICT Act. The Schumer-backed bill, introduced by Senator Markey (MA), would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the hi-tech tools and resources needed to improve detection capabilities and increase the seizure of illicit fentanyl shipped to the U.S. from abroad through mail and express consignment carriers. Schumer said he would work with his colleagues to take action on this issue that is destroying families in New York and the rest of the country.

Schumer was joined by local law enforcement, the Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas; Dr. Jeff Reynolds, President and CEO of the Family & Children’s Association; Rev. Eric Olsen, Pastor of Plainview’s Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and co-chairperson of Long Island Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods (LI-CAN); and Stephen McAllister, Floral Park Village Police Commissioner

“These deadly substances are being delivered to our homes, being sold on our streets, and destroying our families. We know how they get here and where they come from, now we need to give CBP the resources to stop this flood and help save lives,” said Senator Schumer. “The INTERDICT Act will provide those on the frontlines with hi-tech tools that can root out fentanyl and other synthetic opioids that are leading to tragic deaths here on Long Island and throughout New York. The devastation these drugs cause is not a partisan issue, and I’ll be fighting hard to get my colleagues on board to get this bill through the Senate.”

“Fentanyl-laced heroin is devastating our communities and law enforcement needs to utilize every tool and technology to stop the flow of this deadly poison. The INTERDICT Act will help law enforcement prevent fentanyl and other synthetic opioids from entering the country and will be a great asset in our efforts to dismantle the networks of traffickers and dealers who are fueling lethal heroin addictions. I thank Senator Schumer for his leadership on this important legislation and encourage the Senate to pass it immediately,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas

“Fentanyl is now killing more Long Islanders than even heroin is, and we know it’s only a matter of time before the next deadly synthetic opioid hits the streets. As substance abuse prevention specialists and addiction treatment professionals work to reduce the demand for drugs, the INTERDICT Act will help reduce the supply of synthetic opioids flooding across our borders, into our homes, schools and communities. This legislation is critical as we continue to battle an unrelenting opioid and heroin crisis and we once again thank Senator Schumer for his unwavering leadership in addressing addiction on multiple fronts,” said Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, Ph.D, CEAP, SAP, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Family & Children’s Association

"When it comes to fentanyl, law enforcement must have every available tool. This drug is as deadly as it is cheap, and it's killing more and more Long Islanders. Disrupting the supply of fentanyl has to be a top priority. So we're grateful for Senator Schumer's leadership in putting forward a bill to do exactly that -- to give law enforcement the tools they need. And we look forward to finding out if we can count on the whole Long Island Congressional delegation to help get this on the President's desk,” said Rev. Eric Olsen, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Plainview and the co-chairperson of LI-CAN (Long Island Congregations, Associations & Neighborhoods).

Schumer explained that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, has quickly swept into Long Island and is wreaking havoc and destroying families. According to Newsday, there were 303 opioid-related deaths in Suffolk County in 2016, including 171 related to fentanyl. In Nassau County, there were 190 opioid-related deaths in 2016, including 62 related to fentanyl. In total, at least 233 Long Islands were killed by fentanyl.

Although pharmaceutical fentanyl can be misused, most of the fentanyl being sold on the street is illicitly manufactured. While distributors in China are the principal source of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the drug, as well as a source for finished-product illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, Mexico is the primary source for illicit fentanyl smuggled into the United States. Fentanyl suppliers then use methods to mislabel shipments or conceal them inside legitimate goods in order to avoid CBP detection. In 2016, CBP seized nearly 200 pounds of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, primarily from along the southwest border. This is a 25-fold increase over seizures in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, deaths involving synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl, increased by 72 percent, taking more than 9,500 lives. The labs that make these synthetic opioids and take advantage of CBP’s limited capabilities to screen international packages, know that fentanyl is extremely lucrative for dealers and cartels, who can sell $3000 to $5000 in fentanyl purchased from a Chinese drug laboratory for up to $1.5 million on the street. 

To address these challenges, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the INTERDICT Act in March of 2017 in order to ensure CBP has tools to identify illicit drugs and prevent them from coming across the border. Schumer, who has a history of working to get CBP resources and equipment necessary to keeping our ports and borders safe, announced his support for the bi-partisan legislation.

Specifically, the INTERDICT Act:

·         Ensures that CBP will have additional portable chemical screening devices available at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities, and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.

·         Provides CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities – including scientists available during all operational hours – to interpret screening test results from the field.  

·         Authorizes – based on CBP guidance – the appropriation of $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for support during all operational hours.

Schumer’s push comes as law enforcement has begun warning about new and more-deadly potent varieties of fentanyl being found in the United States, shipped here from overseas manufacturers. Specifically, law enforcement is also very concerned about the emergence of “3-methylfentanyl” as well as “Carfentanil,” which is one of the strongest opioids in the fentanyl class of drugs. Carfentanil, which is an opioid used to tranquilize elephants, is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and has been found in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England. 

Schumer noted that with New York’s proximity to the international border with Canada, it’s even more critical to strengthen our border screening ability.  Schumer explained CBP, which is on the front lines of the U.S. effort to stop fentanyl from crossing into our borders from abroad, requires these additional resources to keep ahead of fentanyl manufacturers looking to ship drugs into the United States. CBP has a number of tools it uses to screen contraband smuggled into the United States at the border or through the mail. When it encounters a suspicious substance, it can be difficult to detect the source of the illicit material and whether it poses a hazard to them. In order to confront this challenge, CBP has had success with screening and determining illicit drugs, like fentanyl, with the help of high-tech, handheld chemical screening devices. The INTERDICT Act ensures that CBP has access to additional portable chemical screening devices and extra personnel in their laboratories, in order to better interpret tests gathered from the field, and minimize agent’s exposure to dangerous substances.

Schumer has long supported efforts to combat the heroin-opioid epidemic. In the recent omnibus, negotiated by Schumer, $3.8 billion has been provided to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a $35 million increase from last year, for. In the last two fiscal years, New York received more than $111 million from SAMHSA block grants. The agreement also provides funding that helps law enforcement combat the epidemic. For instance, the agreement provides a $4 million increase to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, which brings the entire pot to $254 million; $12.5 million for the DEA to establish four new heroin enforcement teams; $10 million for competitive grants to statewide law enforcement agencies in States with high rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids; and $35 million for regional information sharing activities which support the efforts of thousands of criminal justice agencies to combat drug trafficking organizations and other criminal activity. Moreover, the agreement funds nearly $450 million in efforts through several departments and agencies specifically targeted to attack the opioid/heroin crisis: $160.5 million from the Department of Justice for interdiction, enforcement and treatment programs;$112 million for the Centers for Disease Control for preventing prescription drug overdoses;$56 million from SAMHSA for grants to expand access to drug treatment services for those with a dependence on prescription opioids or heroin; $20 million for programs newly authorized under the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act; $50 million to Community Health Centers for services to prevent and treat addiction in underserved areas throughout New York and the nation; and $50 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for additional funding for treatment and prevention. There are 65 CHCs in New York, serving nearly 2 million patients in 2015 and employing more than 15,000 New Yorkers.

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