Menendez Applauds Passage of Groundbreaking Legislation Holding China Accountable for Illicit Fentanyl Trafficking

Menendez Applauds Passage of Groundbreaking Legislation Holding China Accountable for Illicit Fentanyl Trafficking

Fentanyl Sanctions Act takes opioid fight directly to China—the world’s largest fentanyl producer—as part of comprehensive approach to combating opioid epidemic Synthetic fentanyl responsible for largest spike in opioid deaths, overdoses

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today announced Senate passage of the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act to hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids.  The measure, which pushes China’s government to honor their commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal, was included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 that passed the Senate this afternoon by a vote of 86-8.  

Over 3,000 people in New Jersey died of a drug overdose in 2018, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse attributed the largest increase due to synthetic fentanyl.  

“Fentanyl has been pouring into our country, devastating our communities every day for the past five years. In 2018 alone, a record 3,163 New Jerseyans died of opioid-related overdoses including prescription pain killers, heroin and fentanyl,” said Sen. Menendez.  “But despite our continued efforts to increase security at our ports, the fact is we need the cooperation from other countries if we’re going to have any chance at stopping this epidemic. We cannot simply take China’s word for it when they say they’ll crack down on fentanyl manufacturers—especially when American lives are at stake. With this legislation, we are sending a clear message to the Chinese government—and any other country that decides to turn a blind eye to fentanyl production—that says your actions will have consequences. I am proud to partner with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to take this important step forward in our fight to end the scourge of opioid addiction.”

In April, Sen. Menendez stood along the Camden waterfront overlooking the Port of Philadelphia, site of a major fentanyl bust last summer, to outline the legislation imposing sanctions on China and Chinese entities who supply and support the illicit drug trade trafficking in death in the United States.  China is the world’s top producer of fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that is 50-times more potent than heroin and responsible for the largest spike in opioid-related deaths and overdoses.  


The Fentanyl Sanctions Act would provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths. 

Specifically, this first-ever international sanctions bill to combat opioids would:

·     Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities

·    Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids

·   Urges the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign opioid traffickers

·  Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere. 

The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Sens. Menendez, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)

Sen. Menendez voted last year for the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers here in the United States.  He also wrote several provisions of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 that expanded family-based treatment options, required the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to develop a comprehensive, national opioid action plan, and created an alternative to opioids pilot program based upon innovations to pain management treatment developed by St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson.  The Senator cosponsored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), signed into law in 2016, which provides resources to states to expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription drugs and to develop better monitoring systems for prescription drug use, makes naloxone more widely available to law enforcement agencies and other first responders to help prevent overdoses and save lives, creates an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program, and sets national treatment standards.