Sen. Chuck Schumer, flanked by Long Island’s top law enforcement officials Monday, called for swift passage of a bill that would slap sanctions on Chinese drug manufacturers, banks and criminal organizations involved in the illicit transport of fentanyl into the United States.
“Chinese laboratories have been cooking up formulas of death and freely exporting lethal fentanyl across Long Island, where it is killing too many people, and it has to stop,” the Senate minority leader said during a news conference at the Nassau County Police Department’s First Precinct in Baldwin.
The Fentanyl Sanctions Act, passed by the Senate last month, would also dedicate at least $450 million to the CIA, FBI, DEA and other federal agencies to identify drug manufacturers and financial institutions complicit in illicit fentanyl trafficking, Schumer said.
“Our Fentanyl Sanctions Act has found a way to reach into China and stop the manufacturers there from sending the drug here,” said Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Schumer was joined at Monday’s news conference by Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and Jeffrey Reynolds, president of the Family and Children Association, a Mineola-based social services agency.
“We know we have to take this war overseas to China,” Hart said. “We are going to hit back.”
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid linked to thousands of overdose deaths on Long Island and across the nation in recent years. It is 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
China is the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, Schumer said.
Law enforcement officials say drug dealers sometimes cut heroin with fentanyl to boost profits because it is cheap. More than 48,000 people died in United States as a result of fentanyl overdoses in 2018, the CDC said.
“They make it more difficult when they increase the potency and they make it even more difficult when they put fentanyl in it,” Ryder said. “You’re going to hurt our kids, we are going to come back and hurt you. This bill will help us go after that and take that profit out of it.”
The New York Democrat urged the House of Representatives to approve the bill before the congressional break next month. Schumer said hoped President Donald Trump would sign the Fentanyl Sanctions Act quickly so sanctions could be put in place by September.
Chinese companies that manufacture fentanyl shipped illegally into the United States would be barred from selling any chemicals they produce if the bill passed, Schumer said. "They would not be able to sell a single chemical in the United States,” Schumer said.
Foreign banks linked to fentanyl manufacturers would also be barred from doing business with U.S. financial institutions. “That is a death blow to them,” Schumer said.
Schumer said he was optimistic the proposal would pass because it is included in the military spending bill.
“It’s going to pass, I think. The trouble is inertia,” Schumer said.
“We want it done ASAP so we can start working on this in September,” he added. “Every day we wait, people die.”