Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Bipartisan Legislation To Fend Off Fentanyl Overdoses Poisoning New York’s Communities

Jun 12, 2023

Fentanyl Was Involved In 80% of Overdose Deaths in New York City In 2021;

1.5x More People Die from Synthetic Opioids than Car Crashes

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood in New York City to announce her bipartisan bill to fend off fentanyl overdoses that are poisoning New York’s communities. The Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act targets opioid traffickers using sanctions on the illicit drug trade and measures to combat money laundering that makes trafficking fentanyl possible. The bill also empowers the government to penalize people trafficking fentanyl. Fentanyl is a silent killer that cannot be detected by taste, smell, or sight when mixed with other drugs, and was involved in 80% of overdose deaths in New York City in 2021. The synthetic opioid is 50 times stronger than heroin. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 379,000,000 deadly doses of fentanyl – enough to supply a lethal dose to every American. Senator Gillibrand was joined by nephew of “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire” actor Michael K. Williams and advocate Dominic Dupont, Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York Bridget Brennan, Partnership to End Addiction CEO Creighton Drury, and NYS Assemblyman Alex Bores.

“No community has been left untouched by the deadly impacts of silent killers like fentanyl. Without testing supplies, fentanyl becomes undetectable when mixed with other drugs like cocaine and heroin. Just last year, the DEA seized enough deadly doses of fentanyl in New York for more than three times the state’s population,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act would target cartels producing and trafficking these dangerous drugs into the United States and would empower the government to sanction drug traffickers and combat money laundering schemes that make this trade profitable. We have lost far too many lives to fentanyl overdoses and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress to keep our communities safe from deadly synthetic opioids.”    

“Cartels and opioid traffickers abroad should not be profiting off the deaths of New Yorkers. I am proud to support the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which will ensure President Biden, the US Treasury, and Congress have the tools they need to protect our state, and commend Senator Gillibrand for backing this landmark legislation,” said Alex Bores, Assemblymember for the 73rd District.

“I wholeheartedly endorse the FEND Off Fentanyl Act and stand before you today in honor of my uncle, Michael K. Williams, who would have championed any initiative aimed at disrupting the illicit trade of opioids and fentanyl,” said community advocate Dominic Dupont. “Fentanyl killed Michael K. Williams and thousands of others and serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact this drug has on our communities. We can’t just know better. We have to do better. We must take decisive action. That means passing this bill and getting it to the President of the United States for his signature.”

“Preventing addictive and deadly fentanyl from ever reaching our streets is our primary goal. The proposed FEND Off Fentanyl Act would go a step further, and provide tools aimed at thwarting the manufacture of illegal fentanyl,” said Bridget Brennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York“Under the proposed legislation, foreign organizations supplying the chemicals needed to produce the illegal drug would see their assets seized and their property forfeited. Our country’s financial institutions would be directed to look for transactions related to fentanyl trafficking, which would lead to freezing funds and seizing accounts. These are the sophisticated tools needed to address this devastating crisis, and I commend Senator Gillibrand for her support of this legislation.”

“Families are extremely concerned about the risk fentanyl poses to their loved ones. This crisis is complex, and requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach,” said Creighton Drury, CEO of Partnership to End Addiction. “We’re grateful for leaders like Sen. Gillibrand who are committed to addressing the addiction crisis on all fronts – ensuring that support for families and investment in public health solutions accompany efforts to disrupt fentanyl trafficking.”

“The Alliance for Positive Change is proud to stand with Senator Gillibrand and others in a bipartisan effort to interrupt the devastation that fentanyl is inflicting on our streets and in our communities,” said Sharen I. Duke, Executive Director/CEO of Alliance for Positive Change. “As a community-based provider of harm reduction and recovery services, Alliance is on the front lines of the daily fight to keep New Yorkers safe. But because our streets are awash in unregulated fentanyl, our efforts with syringe exchange, Narcan training, and other interventions must be part of a broader, systemic solution. By addressing the illicit fentanyl trade, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act can reduce the amount of fentanyl reaching our communities, saving lives and restoring hope.”

The majority of illegal fentanyl entering the United States is made with Chinese precursor chemicals and manufactured in Mexico. This bill will empower the U.S. government to go after the cartels bringing these dangerous drugs into the United States and those producing and shipping the precursor materials. It also enhances sanctions enforcement and gives the Treasury Department tools to combat fentanyl-related money laundering. 

Specifically, to disrupt the flow of illicit opioids into the United States, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act would: 

  • Declare the international trafficking of fentanyl a national emergency.
  • Require the president to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
  • Enable the president to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
  • Enhance the ability to enforce sanctions violations, making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
  • Require the administration to report to Congress on actions the U.S. government is taking to reduce the international trafficking of fentanyl and related opioids.
  • Allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
  • Require the Treasury Department to prioritize fentanyl-related suspicious transactions and include descriptions of drug cartels’ financing actions in Suspicious Activity Reports.

This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Brown (D-OH), Wicker (R-MS), Reed (D-RI), Vance (R-OH), Tester (D-MT), Lummis (R-WY), Sinema (I-AZ), Britt (R-AL), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Kennedy (R-LA), Fetterman (D-PA), Hagerty (R-TN), Smith (D-MN), Menendez (D-NJ), Risch (R-ID), Van Hollen (D-MD), Moran (R-KS), Warner (D-VA), Daines (R-MT), Hassan (D-NH), Crapo (R-ID), Shaheen (D-NH), Collins (R-ME), Heinrich (D-NM), Braun (R-IN), Rosen (D-NV), Ernst (R-IA), Casey (D-PA), Cramer (R-ND), Baldwin (D-WI), Rounds (R-SD), Kelly (D-AZ), Capito (R-WV), King (I-ME), Scott (R-FL), Whitehouse (D-RI), Budd (R-NC), Tillis (R-NC), Manchin (D-WV), Cassidy (R-LA), Cornyn (R-TX), Wyden (D-OR), Schmitt (R-MO), Kaine (D-VA), Lankford (R-OK), Boozman (R-AR), Padilla (D-CA), and Blumenthal (D-CT).