Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI), Peter King (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), and Mike McCaul (R-TX) have introduced the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act, a bipartisan bill to establish a Joint Task Force at the Department of Homeland Security to stop the inflow of foreign fentanyl and other opioids into the United States.
“Rhode Island continues to be among the states hardest hit by the opioid overdose epidemic,” said Langevin, a senior member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. "We need to take a multi-pronged approach to solve this ongoing public health crisis, and it must include increased efforts to keep fentanyl and other opioids out of the country and off of our streets. That’s why I'm proud to join Representative King to introduce this bipartisan bill that will help the Department of Homeland Security better prevent the trafficking of these addictive and deadly drugs. We must do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our communities.”
“It is imperative that we do all that we can to stop this epidemic,” said King. “I am proud to work with Rep. Langevin on this important legislation and will continue to do all that I can to make sure the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act becomes law.”
The Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act expands Joint Task Force authority at DHS to allow for the creation of a new task force for the purpose of interdicting and preventing narcotics, such as fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, from crossing the border into the United States. The bill encourages DHS to utilize private partnerships when carrying out this mission.
In 2017, a record 47,600 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses, accounting for nearly 68 percent of all drug overdose deaths nationwide. More than half of opioid-related deaths can be attributed to overdoses involving fentanyl according to a study of ten states conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain reliever with a high risk of abuse; however, illegally manufactured fentanyl is responsible for the majority of overdose deaths. An estimated 90 percent of this illicit fentanyl is produced in China before being smuggled into the United States.