Saturday, May 19, 2018
McCaskill: Stopping the flow of synthetic opioids
In 2016, approximately 116 people died every day from opioid-related drug overdoses.
That’s more than 42,000 people in one year. And every day in the United States, the opioid epidemic claims more lives – more parents, siblings, and children. Fentanyl has made this epidemic even more deadly.
While many addicts still use heroin and over-the-counter opiates, the emergence of illicit fentanyl has rapidly increased the deadliness of this epidemic in the last few years.
More than half of the deaths caused by opioid overdoses in Missouri tested positive for fentanyl. And most of this fentanyl is produced and shipped illegally from China.
Last week, I released a report showing that the amount of illicit opioid fentanyl seized by the Department of Homeland Security has increased dramatically, and that the overwhelming majority of fentanyl seizures are occurring at U.S. ports of entry, more than doubling from one year to the next, from 564 pounds in 2016 to 1,370 pounds in 2017.
So how can we stop the flow of synthetic opioids across our border driving this public health crisis?
According to Customs and Border Patrol, ports of entry have 4,000 FEWER Port Officers than they need.
I introduced a bill that would require CBP to hire additional officers at ports of entry to fill these shortages, and recently asked Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen why we weren’t fully staffing these ports.
This new report shows the clear need to ensure ports of entry have the resources required to intercept illicit opioids. I’m committed to asking the hard questions and making sure our border officers have access to the resources they need.
I’m fighting tooth and nail on this issue, and I won’t give up.