Schumer bill tar­gets for­eign fen­tanyl labs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - News - MICHAEL BAL­SAMO

WASH­ING­TON — The Se­nate’s top Demo­crat is in­tro­duc­ing leg­is­la­tion to “hold China ac­count­able” and sanc­tion lab­o­ra­to­ries and other traf­fick­ers who ex­port fen­tanyl to the United States.

The bill, which will be in­tro­duced by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York this week, is likely to add to grow­ing ten­sion be­tween the U.S. and China days be­fore Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer will lead high-level trade talks in China.

In De­cem­ber, China agreed to la­bel fen­tanyl, the deadly syn­thetic opi­oid re­spon­si­ble for tens of thou­sands of Amer­i­can drug deaths an­nu­ally, as a con­trolled sub­stance.

Schumer’s leg­is­la­tion — known as the Fen­tanyl Sanc­tions Act — would di­rect U.S. of­fi­cials to pub­licly iden­tify for­eign opi­oid traf­fick­ers, would deny the traf­fick­ers visas in the United States and would pro­hibit them from do­ing busi­ness us­ing Amer­i­can banks.

The bill aims to “hold ac­count­able” fen­tanyl man­u­fac­tur­ers in China and other coun­tries that il­le­gally ship drugs to the United States, Schumer said. It could also be used to tar­get transna­tional gangs and car­tels in­volved in fen­tanyl traf­fick­ing, as well as banks that help those or­ga­ni­za­tions, he said.

“For years, Chi­nese lab­o­ra­to­ries have been cook­ing-up for­mu­las of death and freely ex­port­ing lethal fen­tanyl across New York, and to many other places across Amer­ica, where it is killing tens-of-thou­sands of peo­ple — and it has to stop,” Schumer said in a state­ment to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

The leg­is­la­tion would also re­quire the U.S. to cre­ate a com­mis­sion to over­see syn­thetic opi­oid traf­fick­ing, which would mon­i­tor ef­forts to com­bat fen­tanyl traf­fick­ing from China and Mex­ico and is­sue re­ports on its find­ings. It also pro­vides ad­di­tional fund­ing for law en­force­ment agen­cies that are try­ing to com­bat syn­thetic opi­oid traf­fick­ing.

Schumer ex­pects the bill will re­ceive bi­par­ti­san sup­port, ac­cord­ing to his spokesman, An­gelo Roe­faro.

Schumer said the bill is nec­es­sary be­cause Congress hasn’t been pro­vided with a “signed and en­force­able agree­ment, a solid plan or gen­uine com­mit­ment” since China has agreed to la­bel fen­tanyl a con­trolled sub­stance af­ter a meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping dur­ing the G-20 sum­mit in De­cem­ber.

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