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As Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador heads to the White House next month to meet with President Biden, Republicans are calling for tackling the flow of fentanyl into the United States to be high on the agenda.
Lopez Obrador skipped the Summit of the Americas earlier this month, saying he would travel to the White House in July to meet President Biden.
Republicans think fentanyl should be Biden’s top talking point.
“If I looked at an agenda that I think would be appropriate for this meeting, fentanyl would be right at the top of the list,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said in an interview with Fox News Digital. . “Human trafficking would come right after that – border security and national security issues that we share with Mexico.”
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“That would be the first thing I would bring up,” added Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas. “And I wouldn’t talk about much other than, ‘What are you going to do for the United States of America in terms of kneeling under the cartels and stopping the flow , not only of fentanyl, but the illegal trafficking and human trafficking coming into the United States, which emboldens the cartels and allows them to introduce fentanyl?” We have Americans dead directly because of what Mexico allows [the cartels] TO DO.”
Southern border seizures of the drug, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can be deadly in small amounts, have exploded in recent years. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 10,586 pounds of drugs in fiscal year 2021. This represents an increase from the 4,558 pounds seized in fiscal year 2020 and the 2,633 pounds seized in during the 2019 financial year.
In May, CBP seized more than 7,000 pounds of drugs in fiscal year 2022, suggesting it is on track to surpass last year’s massive numbers. While the seizures of the drug reflect the success of officers apprehending drugs, it also raises the possibility that – amid a massive increase in border activity since the President took office Biden – a large amount also goes through agents.
While it’s unclear how much fentanyl is entering the United States, the number of drug-related deaths is rising. The Drug Enforcement Administration warned earlier this year of a “national spike” in fentanyl-related overdoses.
The agency cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics that in a 12-month period ending in October, there were more than 105,000 drug overdoses, 66% of which were fentanyl-related. and other synthetic opioids.
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“Fentanyl is killing Americans at an unprecedented rate,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement.
Officials say the drug, which often kills by being mixed with another drug without the user’s knowledge, is now mostly smuggled through the land border with Mexico after being produced with precursors from China.
However, so far this year, the topic does not appear to have come up in talks between President Biden and the Mexican leader. The pair spoke virtually in April, and it was not done then, according to a reading of the call, which said supply chains, commerce, infrastructure and tools to manage the “regional migration surges” were all on the agenda.
A direct reference to either drug-trafficking cartel was missing from the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration at the Summit of the Americas earlier this month. In the related announced commitments, which included a slew of funding and migration-related commitments by the United States, there was no Mexican commitment to cracking down on cartels or smuggling of fentanyl into the United States.
Fox News Digital contacted the White House to ask if the topic would be discussed at the July meeting, but did not receive a response.
Representative John Katko, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News Digital in a statement that the United States “will not get the spill of fentanyl in the country under control unless Mexico comes to the table.” .
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“Right now, China is selling precursor chemicals and pill presses to Mexican cartels that are mass-manufacturing synthetic opioids, while raking in millions of dollars a month,” he said. “That’s why I’m calling on President Biden to respond to this public health emergency when he meets with (Lopez Obrador) at the White House next month.
Katko noted Mexico’s participation in the North American Drug Dialogue meeting, which he called “a critical place for collaboration and dialogue on how to combat the significant drug trafficking across the border. mexican”.
“I would advise President Biden to stress how Mexico’s involvement would be mutually beneficial to both countries,” he said. “The volatility caused by the cartels on the Mexican side of the border will have long-term adverse effects on Mexico’s stability as a country. Additionally, Mexico needs to do more to seal off its southern border and stop making it so easy for migrants to travel through their country and to the southern border of the United States.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has sounded the alarm over the effects of fentanyl in the Sunshine State, also told Fox News Digital that Biden should use the meeting to push Lopez Obrador to get some support. assistance.
“While President Biden will rarely mention fentanyl – for then he would have to acknowledge his dismal failure to secure the US-Mexico border as well as the fact that his policies are emboldening the violent drug cartels who are smuggling record amounts of opioids in our country – he should at least take this opportunity to ask President Obrador for help in dismantling the cartels and shutting down his country’s synthetic opioid labs that kill hundreds of Americans every day, even children” , Moody said.
Hagerty said Tennessee law enforcement officials tell him they’re seeing an increase in fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths, and he accused the administration of wanting to completely ignore the problem.
“I’ve tried to bring it up constantly, and I’ve never heard the word fentanyl come out of Joe Biden’s mouth. He and the White House want to ignore one of the biggest disasters associated with the collapse of our border south,” he said. , calling the border situation “the greatest national security crisis we face today.”
Republicans have proposed a number of steps the United States can take to fend off cartels. Roy has for years called on the Biden and Trump administrations to put the cartels on the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, have both introduced bills to declare fentanyl a weapon of mass destruction.
Roy said designating the cartels as FTOs would achieve several goals.
“First, to raise them in the awareness of the American people that they are our enemies and must be destroyed,” Roy said. “Second, give our law enforcement and our government the tools and the power to cut off their finances, then go after the Americans who provide them with material support – if you’re a US citizen helping a member of the cartel, then you have to go to jail – and do the things necessary to knock them off their knees.”
Roy said the United States must stop “coddling” Mexico, accusing officials of being “on pins and needles” with its southern neighbors. His message to Mexico was direct: “How about you get your act together and stop letting the cartels run your country?
Mexico has been criticized for its policies regarding cartels and drug trafficking from the United States Earlier this year, the bipartisan Synthetic Opioid Trafficking Commission warned that Mexican government policies have failed to address the challenge of trafficking fentanyl, which he said has proven to be a more profitable alternative to heroin for Mexican traffickers.
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“The Mexican government, partly out of self-preservation and partly because the problem of trafficking transcends current law enforcement capabilities, has recently adopted a ‘hugs not bullets’ approach to dealing with transnational criminal groups,” says the report. “However, such approaches have not been able to address trafficking issues, and further efforts will be required.”
However, Hagerty, who has held meetings with senior officials in the region, told Fox that Mexicans were also frustrated with the situation, with the foreign secretary telling Hagerty that the border crisis was weakening Mexico and strengthening cartels. .
“They now have a huge security problem at their southern border. They have people crossing in caravans. They don’t know who they are,” he said. “Foreign Secretary Ebrard has been very clear with me that this situation was precipitated by our White House, precipitated a huge national security issue for them as well. They don’t like it. And, every day, they s ‘are weakening in terms of their relative ability to deal with cartels.”