Tester Leads Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on Illicit Fentanyl Trafficking

Senator’s FEND Off Fentanyl Act will impose tougher sanctions on cartels, declare international trafficking of fentanyl as a national emergency

As part of his continued efforts to secure America’s borders and combat the flow of fentanyl to Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce his Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act—legislation that would impose economic sanctions on those engaged in the international trafficking of illicit fentanyl, precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl, or other related opioids, and declare international trafficking of fentanyl as a national emergency. 

“The scourge of fentanyl is devastating Montana families and putting a real strain on the border patrol and law enforcement agents who work around the clock to keep us safe,” said Tester. “It’s past time we declare the fentanyl crisis a national emergency and crack down on the Chinese criminal organizations and Mexican drug cartels that are trafficking illicit drugs across our borders. My bipartisan bill will directly target opioid traffickers who are plaguing communities in Montana and across the nation, and I’ll take on anyone to make sure it gets across the finish line.”

“Fentanyl is destroying families and communities across Montana,” said Leo Dutton, Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County and board member of the Montana Sheriff and Peace Officers Association. “I am thankful that Senator Tester is supporting this legislation, which will ensure that law enforcement can go after the Mexican drug cartels and other criminal organizations responsible for trafficking fentanyl and other dangerous drugs across our border and to our state and will continue to work with him to keep Montana safe.”

Specifically, Tester’s bipartisan legislation would:

  • 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, including Chinese suppliers of precursor chemicals, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and more;
  • 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 thereby 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.

Tester has consistently led the charge to combat fentanyl trafficking in Montana and secure our nation’s borders.

During a recent Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Tester pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on combatting Mexican drug cartels and providing law enforcement with additional resources to stop the flow of fentanyl.

In March, Tester continued his push to secure the southern border and stop fentanyl trafficking by calling on the Biden Administration to make additional investments in technology to assist law enforcement in nonintrusive inspections at points of entry. As the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester passed critical provisions in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act and the 2023 government funding bill to fund law enforcement and stop fentanyl trafficking along the southern border.