Fitzpatrick Introduces Bill to Crack Down on Illegal Fentanyl Shipments, Hold Chinese Government Accountable

Bipartisan sanctions legislation is first ever designed to stop flow of fentanyl

May 2, 2019

In light of the dramatic rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Heroin and Opioid Task Force, and Reps. Max Rose (NY-11), French Hill (AR-02), and Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), today introduced the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act—the first-ever fentanyl sanctions effort in the House of Representatives—that would pressure the Chinese government to honor their commitment to make all fentanyl illegal and provide the United States with more tools and resources to go after illicit traffickers in China, Mexico, and other countries.

“Fentanyl has contributed to tens of thousands of deaths and has devastated our community,” Congressman Fitzpatrick said. “Especially concerning is the fact that this synthetic poison can be ordered online and delivered via mail or express consignment couriers, predominantly from China. This legislation will prevent the flow of synthetic opioids into our country and will empower law enforcement to combat trafficking of these drugs.”

“Fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin has wreaked havoc in my district, and I’m sick and tired of parents on Staten Island and South Brooklyn having to bury their child as a result of this epidemic,” Congressman Rose said. “We know the majority of Fentanyl laced heroin is coming from China, and they need to be punished. I commend the President for getting them to crack down on fentanyl production, but I don’t trust a damn thing China says. We need to force them to keep their word. It’s time we act.”

“Across Arkansas, heartbroken families have told me their stories about how the opioid crisis has claimed the lives of their loved ones,” Congressman Hill said. “We can’t allow more families to be destroyed by the opioid crisis, which is killing more than 130 Americans every day. Targeting the source of the world’s largest producers and distributers of fentanyl will begin to stop the flow of these drugs coming across our borders and into our streets. I’m pleased that this bipartisan legislation takes the necessary steps to target the bad actors responsible for the illegal trafficking of fentanyl into the United States.”

“Too many families have been ripped apart by the opioid epidemic, and after a recent rise in overdoses in Upstate New York, it’s clear we must do more to get these drugs off our streets,” Congressman Brindisi said. “This bipartisan solution will impose effective sanctions on illicit fentanyl manufacturers and give law enforcement the tools and resources they need to stop these deadly drugs from entering our country. The bill has support from both parties and both chambers, and we need to act now to get this done. We cannot wait any longer.”

The legislation mirrors legislation already introduced in the Senate by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities.
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense, and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids.
  • Urges the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign opioid traffickers.
  • Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019. China already has problems enforcing its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.

To ensure accountability, the sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries. Producers and traffickers of synthetic opioids, including fentanyl and tramadol, in India, Mexico and other countries present serious threats to the U.S. opioid crisis that could be addressed with precision sanctions.

Read more about the bill HERE.