The Lead

Casey touts Fend Off Fentanyl Act in visit to Pa. state police headquarters

By: - November 6, 2023 3:14 pm

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) discusses the Fend Off Fentanyl Act at state police headquarters in Harrisburg on Monday (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

HARRISBURG — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) joined state law enforcement officials on Monday to garner support for federal legislation that he says would stop fentanyl traffickers from bringing the deadly drug into the country. 

The legislation, known as the Fend Off Fentanyl Act, would target drug traffickers through a combination of federal anti-money laundering policies and sanctions, Casey said. 

“If you’re a serious public official, and you want to do something about securing our borders, you should vote for the funding that would stop the fentanyl,” Casey said. “That’s what this has to be about — stopping fentanyl.”

If adopted, the legislation would require President Joe Biden to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels engaged in international fentanyl trafficking, and enable the president to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property to further law enforcement efforts.

It would also require the administration to report to Congress on the actions being taken to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids and allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering. 

In a letter to Biden last month, Casey urged the administration to address the ongoing fentanyl crisis in the U.S. with Chinese officials, arguing that China was the “primary source for all fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States.

To stop the flow of fentanyl into American communities, we must stop it at the source,” Casey wrote. 

Death rates for people under 40 have skyrocketed. Blame fentanyl.

Pennsylvania recorded more than 5,400 drug overdose deaths in 2021, the most recent year for which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data is currently available. 

Additionally, accidental drug overdoses were the No. 1 cause of death for people under 40 last year in Pennsylvania, a Stateline analysis of CDC data showed. 

Last November, former Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1393 to remove fentanyl testing strips from the Commonwealth’s list of drug paraphernalia as reports of fentanyl-laced drugs continued to grow.

With fentanyl test strips decriminalized, Pa. officials work to gauge demand

State Police Col. Christopher Paris said on Monday that, so far this year, a total of 2,521 overdoses were attributed to fentanyl or one of its derivatives. Of that number, 1,766 overdose victims received naloxone, an overdose reversal medicine.  

“These fentanyl-related totals have been steadily rising since 2021,” Paris said. “I recognize that we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem. We must work together to ensure that fentanyl is cut off at the source. We have to be sure that dealers are held accountable, and we have to ensure that necessary treatments are made available.”

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.