Customs and Border Protection Agents are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat dangerous and illegal drugs from entering our country through our borders and other ports of entry.
Unfortunately, illegal narcotics like opioids and synthetic fentanyl are all too common in Ohio, and law enforcement officers must deal with them on a nearly daily basis.
It’s why I introduced the INTERDICT Act several years ago with Senator Portman to get new screening devices to Customs and Border Protection Agents to detect fentanyl at U.S. borders. And it’s why I want to build on that with the Prevent Exposure to Narcotics and Toxins or PREVENT Act of 2022.
This bipartisan legislation would help Customs and Border Protection Agents and other federal law enforcement officers by providing drug containment devices and training to frontline agents at ports of entry all across the country. These devices safely store illegal narcotics.
CBP Agents will gain another layer of protection from accidental exposure to dangerous drugs and a valuable tool to store these substances for forensic analysis and possible criminal prosecution.
This isn’t someone else’s problem, far away from Ohio – it affects our neighbors and our friends. We know drug overdoses rose during the pandemic.
More than 5,000 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses in Ohio in 2020 – a 25 percent increase over 2019 — making it the worst year on record for drug overdose deaths. And more than 80 percent of those overdose deaths involved fentanyl.
We also know Border Protection Agents are seizing unprecedented amounts of fentanyl — more than 10,400 pounds last year alone. That underscores how often these agents have potential contact with dangerous drugs.
Customs and Border Protection and other federal law enforcement agents have been tasked with the challenge of intercepting these drugs before they enter our communities and we need to give them every tool we can.
I’ve met with law enforcement officers, and we worked with law enforcement organizations to develop this bill and it has the support of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
I have made this a major priority, and we’re going to keep working together to get federal and Ohio law enforcement officers the tools they need.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.