Latta: Borders must be secure to eliminate fentanyl

To the Editor:

107,622: Each digit represents an American who died of a drug overdose in 2021. In Ohio, there were 5,017 drug overdose deaths.

Many of these deaths have been attributed to fentanyl, an illicit substance that has become a scourge across our nation.

These statistics are overwhelming, difficult to comprehend, and devastating to learn. Each number represents a person whose future was cut abruptly short.

How did we reach this point?

Look no further than our nation’s southern border.

The Biden Administration’s weak border enforcement policies have allowed drug cartels to smuggle drugs across the southern border and into our communities.

In the past four months, 9,000 pounds of fentanyl have been seized at our southern border – enough to kill 2.1 billion people. Two milligrams of fentanyl – the amount that would fit in the ear of President Lincoln on a penny – is considered a lethal dose.

A Drug Enforcement Administration official recently testified at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Congress that it costs drug cartels as little as 10 cents to produce a fentanyl-laced fake prescription pill.

It is clear this crisis has spiraled out of control and will not stop without immediate action. In Congress, I am working toward solutions that secure our borders and cut off the flow of illicit drugs.

In February, I participated in a field hearing at the southern border in Texas with fellow members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. We spoke with border patrol agents and discussed solutions to secure the border.

We also heard from witnesses who highlighted the importance of the HALT Fentanyl Act – legislation I’ve introduced with Rep. Morgan Griffith from Virginia.

The HALT Fentanyl Act would permanently label fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Customs and Border Patrol and DEA officials have made it clear that the passage of this legislation remains one of their top priorities. Passing the HALT Fentanyl Act and advancing other border security measures will remain a top priority of mine this Congress and beyond.

We cannot stand idly by while chaos reigns at the southern border and drug cartels profit off the overdoses of Americans. I remain committed to putting the safety and well-being of American communities first.

(U.S. Rep. Bob Latta is from Bowling Green.)