Trump signs bipartisan bill to stop importation of synthetic opioids

By Ray Downs  |  Jan. 10, 2018 at 11:03 PM
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Jan. 10 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill Wednesday that aims to stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act "directs the Department of Homeland Security to provide additional tools and resources to detect and intercept the supply of illicit fentanyl, which is our new big scourge," President Donald Trump said before signing the bill.

The INTERDICT Act appropriates approximately $9 million to increase the number of chemical screening devices, as well as scientists to interpret data from these devices.

Trump said synthetic opioids are entering the country in "record numbers" and blamed countries such as China for the result.

"In 2016, nearly 20,000 Americans died as a result of using synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.  Each death is a tragedy, leaving behind devastated parents, spouses and orphans all over our country," Trump said.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the bill's sponsor, said "80 to 90 percent" of synthetic fentanyl comes from China through Mexico.

"This is the epidemic," Markey said. "It's gone from prescription drugs to heroin, but it is now a fentanyl epidemic in the country, and the legislation [Trump signed] will give the tools to our law enforcement, to our detection people in the country to be able to identify it before it gets into the hands of families in our country."

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