Tester’s Bill to Crack Down on Illicit Fentanyl Trafficking Clears Key Senate Hurdle

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

U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act this week passed through the Senate Banking Committee, clearing a key Senate hurdle. Tester’s bill 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.

“It’s past time we get this fentanyl crisis under control, and that starts with targeting bad actors who are illegally trafficking deadly drugs across our border,” said Tester. “My bipartisan bill will directly target the cartels and criminal organizations who are squeezing our border patrol agents and wrecking Montana communities, and I won’t stop working until we get it across the finish line.”

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 combating Mexican drug cartels and providing law enforcement with additional resources to stop the flow of fentanyl.

Last month, Senator Tester introduced his bipartisan ANTI Drugs Act to increase funding for law enforcement to combat drug trafficking. 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.