Press Release

In Utica, Gillibrand Calls For Passage Of The Fend Off Fentanyl Act 

Mar 2, 2024

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood with local leaders and law enforcement at the Utica Police Department Mohawk Valley Crime Analysis Center to call for the passage of the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, bipartisan legislation that would empower the U.S. government to go after the cartels bringing dangerous drugs into the country and help fight the opioid epidemic. In mid-February, the Senate passed the FEND Off Fentanyl Act as part of a bipartisan national security supplemental package, but the bill has stalled in the House. Now, Senator Gillibrand is calling on Speaker Mike Johnson and House Republicans to take action immediately against the drug producers and traffickers devastating our communities. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and cannot be detected by taste, smell, or sight when mixed with other drugs. In 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 386,000,000 deadly doses of fentanyl across the U.S. – enough to supply a lethal dose to every American.

Gillibrand was joined by Utica Mayor Michael Galime, Co-Chair of the Oneida County Opioid Task Force Sheriff Robert Maciol, Utica Police Chief Mark Williams, Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon, Oneida County District Attorney Todd Carville and Cassandra Sheets, CEO of the Center for Family Life and Recovery.

No community has been left untouched by the opioid epidemic. In 2022, the DEA seized enough deadly doses of fentanyl in New York for more than three times the state’s population, and over the past several months, the federal government has prosecuted 6 members of a fentanyl trafficking ring right here in Utica,said Senator Gillibrand. “The bipartisan FEND Off Fentanyl Act is a critical piece of legislation that will help us target both the cartels and the individuals involved in producing and trafficking these dangerous drugs. It will empower the government to sanction drug traffickers and combat money laundering schemes that make this trade profitable. I was proud to help get this bill passed in the Senate, and today, I’m calling on Republicans in the House to pass it as well. We have lost too many lives to the fentanyl crisis and we have to do everything in our power to fight it.” 

“To tackle the fentanyl issue we need a collaborative effort across federal, state, and local governments. While we are hard at work dealing with tragedy and crime locally, we thank Senator Gillibrand, and all sponsors, for the work at the federal level that can stop fentanyl from entering our borders in the first place,” said Mayor Michael Galime and Utica Police Chief Mark Williams in a joint statement.

“Onieda County families have suffered devastating losses from the deceptive use of fentanyl. We need help getting to the root of the issue. Center for Family Life and Recovery is grateful to Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues for bringing the ambitious approach of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act forward to help conquer the dangerous and illegal trafficking of fentanyl,” said Cassandra Sheets, CEO, Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc.

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, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act would: 

  1. Declare the international trafficking of fentanyl a national emergency.
  2. Require the president to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
  3. Enable the president to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
  4. Enhance the ability to enforce sanctions violations, making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
  5. 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.
  6. Allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
  7. 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), Blumenthal (D-CT), Thune (R-SD), Peters (D-MI), Rubio (R-FL), Stabenow (D-MI), Sullivan (R-AK), Schatz (D-HI), Ricketts (R-NE), Klobuchar (D-MN), Blackburn (R-TN), Markey (D-MA), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Barrasso (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Bennet (D-CO), Booker (D-NJ), Romney (R-UT), Cantwell (D-WA), Butler (D-CA), and Ossoff (D-GA).