News Department

Menendez joins with law enforcement officials, prevention advocates and families to highlight FEND Off Fentanyl Act

Last month, the legislation was passed in the Senate as part of the FY2024 NDAA

NEW JERSEY – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) Monday joined with the Atlantic County Sheriff, the Atlantic County Prosecutor, the Partnership for a Drug-Free NJ, and families impacted by the opioid epidemic and fentanyl crisis to highlight legislation he co-sponsored, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, that passed the Senate on July 27th as part the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“As we continue to raise awareness about the devastating impacts the fentanyl crisis has on Americans across the country – particularly our young people and their loved ones – we strive to crack down on fentanyl with the FEND Off Fentanyl Act,” Menendez said. “This landmark legislation is an urgently needed bipartisan initiative to strengthen current efforts to disrupt the trafficking of fentanyl into the United States. By targeting fentanyl and its revenue streams, we both protect our national security, and provide our law enforcement with the tools they need to address this issue head-on.”

The FEND Off Fentanyl Act is a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill to help combat the country’s fentanyl crisis by targeting opioid traffickers devastating America’s communities. The bill will enhance current law so U.S. government agencies can more effectively disrupt illicit opioid supply chains and penalize those facilitating the trafficking of fentanyl. The bill also ensures that sanctions are imposed not only on the illicit drug trade, but also on the money laundering that makes it possible.

“New Jersey is losing too many of our children to the opioid and fentanyl crisis. In order to reverse this epidemic, we need to continue to focus on education and prevention efforts, along with treatment options and collaboration with our prescribers and law enforcement who have the tools to support each of these efforts,” said Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “New Jersey has and continues to be a leader in the collaboration between law enforcement and prevention – on the federal, state, county, and local levels. The FEND Off Fentanyl Act is crucial to supporting these efforts.”

Two mothers spoke during the press conference – Sally Onesty, who lost her 22-year-old son Tyler to fentanyl, and Patrice Lenowitz, who lost her 25-year-old son Max to fentanyl. Both shored their heartbreaking testimonies of what this deadly drug has done to their sons, families, and their own lives.

“We have reached the critical stage in which it’s not an “if” Fentanyl will claim the life of someone you love, it’s “WHEN,” said Patrice Lenowitz, who lost her 25-year-old son, Max, last year to fentanyl. “Today’s Fentanyl criminal masterminds from China and Mexico have added this chemical to counterfeit prescription pills like Adderall, Xanax, Oxycodone, illicit street drugs like cocaine, and even marijuana. Senator Menendez’ leadership through the Fend Off Fentanyl Act is an important step as a deterrent. I couldn’t save my child. But it’s not too late to save yours.”

In New Jersey, fentanyl was involved in nearly 75 percent of drug overdoses in 2019 – a drastic increase from seven years prior when it accounted for four percent, according to the NJ Office of the Attorney General. In 2021, nearly 107,000 Americans died from an overdose, and 65% of overdose deaths were caused by fentanyl. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 379 million deadly doses of fentanyl – enough to supply a lethal dose to every American.

Just last month, in Paterson, New Jersey State Police seized approximately three and a half pounds of suspected fentanyl powder and over 1,000 suspected fentanyl pills, with a combined street value of nearly $1 million. As part of the arrest, 800,000 fentanyl doses were taken off of the streets.

Specifically, to disrupt the flow of illicit opioids into the United States, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act 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 drug trafficking.
  • Enable the President to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further support 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

Multiple national organizations have expressed support for the bill, including Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA), the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and FDD Action.

In June, the Senator introduced the Strengthening Fentanyl Sanctions Act, critical legislation to ensure that the Biden administration has the resources and authorities needed to target malign actors fueling the ongoing fentanyl epidemic in our country. Earlier this year, he held a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on illicit fentanyl trafficking, and how the United States can use every foreign policy tool available to stop the flow of fentanyl into the country.

In 2022, Sen. Menendez joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues to introduce a resolution urging Congress to combat international criminal organizations, illicit trade, and the use of trade-based money laundering (TBML), which pose a significant threat to U.S. national security. In 2019, the Senator led the Senate passage of the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act to hold China and other countries accountable to their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button