WASHINGTON DC – Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark, a Democrat who represents Framingham, and Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) introduced The Fentanyl and Heroin Task Force Act.
The bipartisan legislation strengthens the federal coordination and response to the surge in fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths across the country. Massachusetts ranks second nationally in fentanyl-related deaths. Fentanyl is known to be lethal in minute doses. Its unprecedented flow into communities has forced local emergency responders to seek additional resources and best practices to protect themselves from exposure to the lethal substance.
The Fentanyl and Heroin Task Force Act establishes a task force of federal agencies to help eradicate the illicit fentanyl and heroin trade. The task force would work with state and local law enforcement agencies to share best practices for handling and disposing of fentanyl, have necessary and updated information on targeting and taking down organizations that traffic fentanyl and heroin, and have operational and investigative support for these efforts.
“Every day in the Commonwealth, we see the opioid crisis, escalated by heroin and fentanyl, ravaging our communities,” said Rep. Clarkin a media release.
“We hear it in the painful cries of ailing newborns, we see it on the faces of desperate parents, and we grieve it in our ever-expanding cemeteries. This devastation calls on all of us, at every level of government, healthcare, and law enforcement, to push for resources our families need to prevent another death. The Fentanyl and Heroin Task Force Act is a commonsense proposal to combine federal and local resources to battle the deadly grip heroin and fentanyl have on our communities,” she said.
“Last week I held a roundtable discussion on the fentanyl crisis, hearing directly from the men and women who are on the front lines battling this most challenging public health and safety crisis. I learned that while steps have been taken to coordinate efforts at the federal level, there isn’t an interagency task force solely focused on eradicating fentanyl and heroin trafficking. The crisis is deepening every day, and this needs to happen – and it needs to happen now. This task force will bring together federal agencies to ensure communication and resources are coordinated and targeted, all while working with state and local law enforcement. We can and must do more to give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to stop fentanyl flowing from China and Mexico into our communities,” Jenkins said.
The Fentanyl and Heroin Task Force Act establishes a task force of agencies including the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the IRS, the International Trade Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The legislation would also require a report to Congress that includes a description of the status of fentanyl and heroin trafficking within the United States, a summary of federal, state and local efforts to eradicate fentanyl and heroin trafficking, and recommendations by the task force to Congress for additional legislative action.