New Law Targets Fentanyl Supply Chain, China and Drug Cartels 

By Brendan Scanland

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 2022, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized over 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl – which is enough fentanyl to supply a lethal dose to every American. 

Lawmakers have been working in a bipartisan manner to address the crisis and made significant progress with a new bill signed by President Biden last week. 

The “Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act” is a sanctions and anti-money laundering law that will target opioid manufacturers and traffickers. 

The legislation was a piece of the $95 billion foreign aid package signed into law by President Biden last week. Lawmakers say it will help government agencies disrupt illicit opioid supply chains and penalize involvement with the trafficking of fentanyl.  

“A sanctions and anti-money laundering bill will give the federal government more power, more resources to go at the bad guys here- China and Mexican drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations,” said Senator Bob Casey (D- PA), one of the many cosponsors of the bill in the Senate. 

He says the law will ensure that sanctions are imposed not only on the illicit drug trade, but also on the money laundering that makes it profitable. Specifically: 

  • Declare that the international trafficking of fentanyl is 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 traffickers to help law enforcement.  
  • Enhance enforcement of sanctions violations, making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.  
  • 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  

“Go after them, go after their money, which is what they’re most interested in, to reduce the flow of fentanyl into the United States,” said Casey, who has advocated for the bill’s passage for months. “The reason FEND Off Fentanyl is passing is because leaders like me made sure it was part of this security agreement. This is a giant step forward,” he added. 

The bill had close to 70 co-sponsors in the Senate, over 30 of whom were Republicans. However, many Republicans, especially in the House, say the fentanyl crisis is being fueled by an open border. 

“We’ve seen gang members and people with criminal backgrounds be released into our country. We’ve seen fentanyl flood over the border. And it’s now become, as we all know, the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 49,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R- LA) during a recent press conference. 

In December 2023, a record breaking 250,000 migrants were encountered at the U.S. – Mexico border.