Peters Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Bolster DHS Efforts to Detect and Seize Illicit Drugs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that the Department of the Homeland Security (DHS) is efficiently using existing resources and expanding available tools to stop the flow of deadly and illicit drugs like fentanyl into our nation. The bill will help ensure that DHS has the data, information, and resources needed to counter drug trafficking.

“The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities in Michigan and across our country. That is why we must use every tool at our disposal to fight back against trafficking and seize these drugs before they can harm Americans,” said Senator Peters. “By bolstering the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to reduce the supply of dangerous drugs like fentanyl in the United States, this bipartisan bill will help reduce overdoses and save lives.”

The drug epidemic in the United States has reached an unprecedented level, with overdose deaths climbing to their highest levels—over 100,000 deaths within the 12-month period ending in April 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This crisis has been exacerbated by the increase of synthetic opioids, including illicitly manufactured fentanyl. DHS plays an important role in disrupting and stopping these dangerous drugs from crossing our borders, and in dismantling the transnational criminal organizations that smuggle these drugs and profit from this crisis. This bill provides solutions to assist DHS with its counterdrug mission while also holding DHS accountable for assessing and improving their efforts. The bill aligns with the Administration’s priorities outlined in the National Drug Control Strategy, particularly the goal of reducing the supply of illicit drugs.

The Enhancing DHS Drug Seizures Act requires DHS to develop plan to strengthen public-private partnerships with the shipping, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. These partnerships will assist DHS with early detection and interdiction of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals. The bill also ensures that DHS is utilizing available resources to develop additional ways to test for fentanyl and other illicit drugs. The legislation requires DHS to study how they can improve efforts to collect and analyze data on illegal drug seizures. Better data will ensure that DHS has the information necessary for targeting and intelligence activities. Finally, the bill enhances penalties for the drug traffickers who knowingly and willfully surveil, track, monitor, or transmit information about the location and movement of federal, state, or Tribal law enforcement officials or those who destroy border technology, such as sensors and cameras in order to smuggle drugs into the United States.

Peters has long worked to secure all of our nation’s borders and promote secure and efficient travel and trade at ports of entry. As a part of the government funding legislation that was signed into law in March, Peters helped secure $87 million for non-intrusive inspection systems, which have enabled CBP Officers to ensure safe and secure travel and trade across our borders. He helped secure $3.8 billion as a part of the bipartisan infrastructure law to help CBP upgrade border facilities to more efficiently and securely process travelers and trade at land border crossings. In 2019, Peters secured the first federal funding for the Gordie Howe International Bridge – $15 million for inspection and screening systems. Peters’ bipartisan bill to address the shortage of agricultural inspectors who protect the nation’s food supply and agricultural industry at the border was signed into law last Congress. Peters has also introduced bipartisan legislation to require CBP to hire no less than 600 additional officers a year until the agency’s staffing needs are met.