WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Claire McCaskill and Republican Chairman Ron Johnson are seeking details on what Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is doing to stop illegal opioids from being smuggled into the country at the borders.
“Illegal opioids are coming into the country, making their way past our borders and into Missouri communities where they’re devastating families around the state,” McCaskill said. “I’m committed to working across the aisle and attacking the opioid epidemic from all angles so that more and more lives aren’t lost.”
Senators McCaskill and Johnson are seeking information on the amount and types of opioids that have been seized by CBP over the last five years, what CBP is doing to detect and intercept opioid shipments, and what Congress can do to assist CBP in its efforts. “CBP is the first line of defense for detecting and seizing [illicit opioids] before they can make it to American communities,” the Senators wrote in their letter to CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. “Every day, CBP faces smugglers who find new and covert methods for getting these drugs across our borders and into the hands of Americans...We write to request information about [CBP’s] work to identify and prevent illicit opioids from entering the country.”
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over border protection and enforcement, and as a leader of the Committee, McCaskill has targeted opioid smuggling at the border. McCaskill’s bill to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security’s program that targets transnational criminal organizations on the border and at U.S. ports in order to combat drug and weapons trafficking and other crimes was approved by the Committee earlier this year. She has also pushed for answers in a Committee hearing on what USPS and Customs and Border Protection is doing to crack down on opioid shipments from foreign countries to Missouri and across the country. Recently, she called for more border security funds at ports of entry in order to strengthen efforts to intercept illegal opioids and other drugs entering the country.
McCaskill launched the most comprehensive Congressional investigation into the opioid crisis to date earlier this year, requesting documents from opioid manufacturers in March, and adding additional manufacturers in July as well as expanding her investigation to include distributors’ role in fueling the epidemic. In September, McCaskill announced the first round of findings. McCaskill recently introduced a bill repealing the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 after media reports indicated that it had dramatically restricted the ability of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to crack down on opioid distributors suspected of wrongdoing.