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U.S. Rep. John Duarte Introduces Bill Targeting Fentanyl Traffickers

Duarte said that the Biden administration’s border policies plunged the southern border into a fentanyl and cartel-related crime crisis taking American lives.

California Republican U.S. Rep. John Duarte joined fellow GOP and Democrat lawmakers earlier this month to introduce a bipartisan bill targeting illicit drug traffickers for smuggling and distributing fentanyl and other illegal drugs across President Joe Biden’s open borders.

Duarte, who represents Merced County in Congressional District 13, announced the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Reauthorization Act to provide more than $300 million annually to local, state, and federal law enforcement to stop the spread of f fentanyl and other illicit drugs in the Central Valley and across the United States.

“The Valley, like many communities across our country, has been devastated by the fentanyl and drug epidemic in the United States,” Duarte said in a news release. “Throughout our district, I've seen the toll it's taken on families, children, and our law enforcement.”

HIDTA authorities in California’s Central Valley seized approximately over 1.4 million dosage units of fentanyl, 8,500 pounds of other illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin in 2022. 

A total value of more than $2.9 billion that disrupted or dismantled dozens of drug trafficking/money laundering organizations, which 43% were international operations, officials said.

“That is why I am proud to introduce this bill to provide both financial support to help law enforcement get these drugs off our streets and judicial resources to put drug traffickers behind bars,” Duarte said.

Duarte’s effort to slow the spread of fentanyl plaguing the Central Valley and across the country from “harmful actors with international connections” garnered bipartisan support, including Republican reps David Valadao (CA-22) and Greg Pence (IN-6) and Democrat reps Elissa Slotkin (MI-7), Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Gabe Vasquez (NM-2).

“Protecting our communities from illegal drugs is not a political issue,” Duarte said. “That is why the HIDTA Reauthorization bill is supported by both Republicans and Democrats, as well as local law enforcement officials.”

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol seized 26,700 pounds of fentanyl along the southern border — nearly a 500 percent increase compared to 2020. Authorities said the influx of fentanyl across national borders has led to more than 112,000 deaths in the United States.

The bill comes amid the Biden administration facing heavy scrutiny for its border policies, which has been linked to nearly 7.3 million illegal immigrants crossing the southwest border — a number greater than the population of 36 individual states, according to a Fox News analysis.

Duarte said the Biden administration and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who is currently facing an impeachment trial brought by House Republicans, plunged the southern border into a fentanyl and cartel-related crime crisis taking American lives.

“This crisis is killing our sons and daughters,” he said. “Let’s close the border now."


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