Tester Presses For Answers About Fentanyl
As part of his continued efforts to secure America’s borders and combat the flow of fentanyl to Montana, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., pressed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the administration’s plan to stop illicit drug trafficking during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
Tester specifically questioned Secretary Mayorkas on whether drug cartels can be classified as terrorist groups to provide law enforcement with additional resources.
“The idea has been broached to me, and I haven’t found why it wouldn’t work, that we declare the cartels that are bringing these drugs into the United States as terrorist organizations. What is your view on that? … Wouldn’t designating them as a terrorist organization give you more tools in your toolbox to get rid of these miserable SOBs?”
The idea to classify cartels as terrorist groups was brought to Tester’s attention during a recent roundtable he held with southwest Montana law enforcement in Bozeman. Tester highlighted the feedback he received from the roundtable and emphasized that the scourge of fentanyl is particularly prevalent in Montana.
“Last week I met with law enforcement officials from across southwest Montana about crime. It was a 45 minute meeting, and the first 35 minutes of it was spent on fentanyl. They told me that in 2020, a third of a pound of fentanyl was seized in Montana. In 2021, five pounds. In 2022, 36 pounds. They’re on track to see even an equivalent bigger increase this year…this craps coming across the border, as you’ve already pointed out, it’s coming across our ports of entry. What needs to be done here?”
Tester concluded by calling on DHS to fully reopen ports on the Northern border to pre-pandemic operating hours, citing the detrimental impact reduced hours have had on commerce in Montana.
“I live within about 70 miles of the northern border. You also know very well that Canada is our number one trading partner, you know very well those ports of entry are critically important when it comes to doing trade… When can we expect these ports to be reopened to pre-pandemic hours?”
Tester has consistently led the charge to combat fentanyl trafficking in Montana and secure our nation’s borders.
Earlier this month, 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 Fiscal Year 2023 Budget to stop fentanyl trafficking along the southern border.