Fentanyl is responsible for too many deaths in our state and too much of it continues to be trafficked into our neighborhoods from China and Mexico.
Ohio is experiencing a spike in overdose deaths, with at least 49 people in Ohio dying of suspected overdose in the last three weeks. Law enforcement officials believe, and coroner reports show, that a deadly mix of cocaine and fentanyl is to blame.
That’s why at a Senate Banking Committee Hearing last week on threats from China, I pushed for action on my Fentanyl Sanctions Act. Our bipartisan bill would hold China accountable to its commitment to make all fentanyl illegal, and to give us more tools and resources to go after illicit drug traffickers in China, Mexico, and other countries.
Last month, the Chinese government committed to making all forms of fentanyl subject to the country’s drug control laws. While this is a step in the right direction, Ohio families can’t afford to wait for China to follow through with this promise.
Our bill would make sure China implements and enforces these new laws by requiring the administration to impose sanctions on foreign drug traffickers, including drug manufacturers in China that provide illicit synthetic opioids to traffickers.
It would target transnational criminal organizations, like those in Mexico that mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S., and require sanctions on foreign financial institutions that help these traffickers.
Our bill would also provide crucial funding for U.S. authorities to better target and combat foreign opioid traffickers.
This legislation builds on my INTERDICT Act, which President Trump signed into law last year. That law is getting new, portable, hand-held screening devices to Customs and Border Protection agents to help them detect fentanyl at the U.S. border and stop it before it reaches Ohio streets.
Stopping these drugs isn’t a partisan issue, and I will continue to press my colleges to support our bipartisan effort. I’m hopeful we can get this done this year.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator representing Ohio.