A health crisis has found its way to America with a growing number of fentanyl crossing the border, increasing deadly drug overdoses. On Wednesday, House Democrats actually blocked H.R. 6184, the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl Act.
The resolution was introduced by Republican Representatives Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Kat Cammack of Florida. House Rules Republicans’ Twitter account tweeted about the abhorrent move:
“FLOOR ALERT: @HouseDemocrats blocked @HouseGOP requests to consider @RepMGriffith’s bill to keep fentanyl a controlled substance, a critical tool to stop illegal trafficking of fentanyl across Biden’s open border & keep these deadly substances from claiming more American lives.”
The severity of the crisis has been demonstrated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which announced they seized a record-breaking 11,201 pound of fentanyl in 2021. In just the first three months of fiscal year 2022, they have already seized more than 2,700 pounds – almost more than the amount seized during the entire 2019 year at 2,804 pounds.
“We recently learned from the CDC that between May 2020 and April 2021 more than a hundred thousand overdose deaths occurred in the United States – an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous year…Because fentanyl has a proven medical use, it is considered a Schedule II narcotic, but elicit derivations of fentanyl, also called fentanyl-analogs or fentanyl-related substances, do not tend to demonstrate medical value,” said Griffith.
The bill would have permanently placed fentanyl-related substances into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, making it illegal to sell the molecularly-altered fentanyl substance manufactured by criminals, instead of its normal classification as a Schedule II under the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The emergency class-wide scheduling order for fentanyl-related substances is set to expire on February 18.
Fentanyl and related drugs, trafficked through the U.S.-Mexico border, are currently the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States.
Mexican drug cartels, using substances imported from China, have largely switched over to producing and trafficking fentanyl because it is not limited to a growing season and it is easier to smuggle through the ports of entry and between the ports of entry along the southern border.
Griffith’s bill would have granted researchers the ability to conduct studies on these substances.
Report: U.S. investigated ties between drug cartel and Mexican President’s allies
U.S. investigators have been looking into ties between drug cartels and allies of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, The New York Times reported. The investigation, which spanned several years, looked into allegations that drug cartels had met and provided Obrador’s allies with millions of dollars after he assumed office in 2018, according to NYT. The investigation was ultimately closed, in part because of the sensitive diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.
Drug cartels have had a known hold on Mexico and its government for decades by paying off and manipulating officials, police and politicians, according to the NYT. Obrador decried the allegations as “completely false.” He said it would not affect the U.S.-Mexico relationship “in any way” but said he wanted a response from the U.S. government.
The Daily Caller News Foundation writes that the recent decision to close the inquiry into Obrador’s allies came in part because sensitivities surrounding of the arrest of Zepeda, which Obrador and his allies were angered by and felt was based on “fabricated” charges, according to NYT. The Department of Justice reversed the indictment and released Zepeda after facing pressure from Obrador’s administration.
“The investigation found no direct ties between Obrador, himself, and the cartels, and some of the information was collected by informants who are often incorrect, according to NYT.” Some informant accounts suggested that Obrador’s allies met with the leader of the Sinaloa cartel prior to his election in 2018.
The Daily Caller News Foundation notes of the Times’ report:
Prior investigations into Mexican officials tied to the cartel have resulted in criminal charges by the U.S. before, such as in the 2020 case of Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and the 2023 case of former Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna.
Another account suggested that the leader of the infamously violent Zetas cartel paid out $4 million to two of Obrador’s confidants as an attempted bribe to get released from prison, according to NYT. One account claimed that the cartels possessed video evidence of Obrador’s son picking up drug money.
U.S. investigators also tracked payments made by suspected cartel members to intermediaries of Obrador, according to NYT. One payment was made while Obrador was in Sinaloa visiting the mother of notorious drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera – informally known as El Chapo – who is currently serving a life sentence in U.S. federal prison.
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