tv Homeland Security Officials Testify on Fentanyl Opioid Epidemic CSPAN May 20, 2022 12:19am-1:30am EDT
security, will come to order, chair authorizes to declare a recess at and time, thank you for joining today's hearing to department department of homeland security effort to combat opioid epidemic, past few years weighed heavily on american people, the existing public health crisis including our nation's struggle with truth addiction and overdose death. data from center, for disease control and preventtion suggests that drug overdoses have increased since the pandemic began. they believe over 107,000 overdose deaths occurred in 2021. breaking all previous yearly record, claiming more lives each year, than firearms, suicide, homicide or motor vehicle crashes. tackling the drug crisis is
one of our most pressing national security law enforcement and public health challenges. we must do more to protect american lives. i'm grateful to see this administration tackling the challenge head on, last month president biden released a new national drug control strategy focused on action needed to reduce overries toes and save lives, they include disrupting and dismantes eling drug trafficking operation wherure witnesses here today play a key role. as we are aware rise and misuse of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has -- approval of prescription opioid pain kill cox oxycontin in 1995. they have transnational
criminal organizations exploited. almost all of synthetic opioids harming americans are manufactured outside of the u.s. an issue that biden administration and democrats are focused on tackling, in past chinese fentanyl. which shipped to u.s. in small high purity kwan fees quantities, it was shipped to mexico and smuggled across the border, if has increasingly shifted to mexico. it has never been more important to enhance cooperation with mexican authorities and disrupt of movement of hard drugs across the border. this is what the biden administration is doing. this administration also understands overwhelming majority of hard drugs, more than 90% are smuggled through legal, ports of
entry, by documented travelers not in between them. if you look on the screen, you will see a pie chart. that uses data to illustrate this. that big blue section of the pie chart shows 91.3% coming to ports of entry. rather than waste resources building a wall or tearing families apart the biden administration has directed resources to ports of entry to inopioid shipments where they are arriving and disrupts trans national criminal organizations that smuggling drugs. i expect to hear today from some of my colleagues, migrants seeking asylum are not responsible for vast majority of drugs arriving
in our community, there is no correlation between the volume of hard drugs seized at the border and the number of migrants encountered. for example, we saw seizures of fentanyl heroin reach current levels in june of 2020, at the time migrant was unnationally suppressed. and during times of both high and relatively low migration, department of homeland security is in a unique position to respond to the crisis, both with the investigate arm and personnel and technologies stationed at the border. to scan travelers, could , could haves and cargo entering the united states,
this is critical technology, i support department goal of achieving a 100% scan rate, much more work needs to be done, less than 2% of private vehicles and 15% of commercial vehicles are screens for narcotics at the southwest border, today i look forward to hearing more about the technology and k-9 units to detect opioids at our points of entry, and more about the effort to investigate trans national criminal organizations and their truth supply chain to intercept drug shipments heading to the united states, combating a illicit drugs is no easy task, capping the opioid epidemic requires a whole of society approach that goes beyond scope of border
enforcement. however the homeland security has an important role in this fight, as traffickers finish to adapt their methods today hearing will provide us with an opportunity to learn more about department a effort and challenges in combating the opioid epidemic. i look forward to a frank conversation on the witness' recommendation to how congress can take action to further protect our communities chair now recognizing member of the subcommittee mr. higgins of louisiana for an opening statement. >> thank you madame chair. i would like to communicate to americans that are joining us today this televised hearing, addressed elders in communities, clarify a few things. you can grasp what we're dealing with right now,
united states is under going a horrific drug epidemic crisis, fentanyl, synthetic opioid is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. according to drug enforcement administration, two milligrams of fentanyl can kill a person by ingesting or absorbing through the skin, now the leading cause of death of americans 18 to 45 years old. customs and border patrol has seized enough fentanyl just last year, to kill 2.4 billion people, that over 7 times population of the united states of america. i hope america is paying attention to what i'm sharing here today. it should come as no shock,
reasonable assessment of what happening at our southern border, every american will look at that, and record numbers of illegal crossings. driven by cartel that make their money from trafficking drugs and human beings. easy connection to make continued to that illegal crossings at border, out of control, by any measure, is directly related to the opioid crises that we're suffering as a nation now and deaths we're experiencing, 107,000 americans died from opioid overdoses last year, we've never seen numbers like this before, this is touching your community no matter where you are in law enforcement. if you are an elder in you're community, youngsters from your area, that you
love and care for, they have suffered loss, deaths. the kids are taking pills that are pressed by dealers with equipment they bay on buy on land or build themselves and make pill presses out of raw materials they are getting somewhere, it might be a clue where they are getting it from if you look at our southern border, my colleagues like to use percentages across the aisle. a talk about percentages of seizures, at a ports of entry, large ships or trucks. professional law enforcement, intercepts law large shipments and quantities of drugs, based on investigative work and data from confidential
that is seeking asylum that requires interaction with law enforcement professionals to begin the process of asylum. you don't do that with a backpack of drugs. i'm asking america to be genuine about this conversation on my side of the aisle we want to have this conversation so we can give the law enforcement professionals the assets and assistance they need to do their job and restore american sovereignty of the southern border and save america from death by overdose. but we cannot allow ourselves to be pulled into this false narrative. don't pay attention to the man
behind the curtain. nothing to see, move along. 500,000 got away. he is a stout young man and a lot of them carrying backpacks with drugs in them and it doesn't take a lot of fentanyl to produce thousands and thousands and thousands of pills pressed to look like xanax and oxycontin sold on the streets for five, ten, 15, $25 and parties where your teenagers are going. and they are buying these pills and they are dying. so, i encourage all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to engage honestly about what's happening in america today. i very much look forward to hearing from our law enforcement professionals. madam chair, i yield.
>> i want to thank the ranking member. members are reminded the committee will operate according to the guidelines laid out by the ranking member in the colloquy and without objection, members not on the subcommittee shall be permitted to sit in question the witnesses. not seeing the chairman of the full committee we will move on. the ranking member of the full committee. now i would like to welcome our panel of witnesses. the executive director of the transnational organized crime mission center at dhs office of intelligence and analysis. mr. pete florez's executive commissioner of cbp office and field operations. steve kagen is the assistant director for countering transnational organized crime at ice, homeland security investigations. without objection, the witnesses. in's will be inserted into the record. i will now ease ask each witness
to summarize his statement for five minutes beginning with mr. salk. >> chairwoman, ranking member higgins and distinguished members of the subcommittee on border security visitation and operations. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the growing opioid epidemic from the perspective of dhs office of intelligence and analysis. i am honored to represent the dedicated intelligence professionals who work to keep the homeland safe, secure and resilient. first i'd like to provide contextual information of the illicit supply chain. it's cheaper, faster and more resilient of the implant-based illicit drugs such as heroin. mexico-based drug trafficking organizations into new generation cartels are the leading manufacturers and smugglers of fentanyl to the
u.s. these cartels have chemicals mostly from china and to a lesser extent, india. suppliers adapt to enforcement pressure and restrictions by adjusting advertising or changing chemical structures that fall outside of existing drug controls. dual use chemicals used in synthetic drugs also present additional precursor detection challenges as many have legitimate use. after obtaining precursors, fentanyl production involves three stages. laboratory synthesis, pill processing operations and staging for cross-border smuggling. once fentanyl is the synthesized, a single pill pressing operation in mexico can produce up to 150,000 tablets a day. pills are then staged along mexico's northern border. mexico-based traffickers primarily use personally owned and commercial vehicles to
smuggle fentanyl into the u.s. through land border ports of entry. cbp will later address this in more detail. once in the country, the affiliates distribute synthetic drugs to the large distribution hubs such as los angeles, chicago, atlanta and new york. fentanyl networks are among the world's first digital native drug networks. direct-to-consumer transactions use social media to expand upon the more traditional distribution onward to local hubs. this e-commerce model also enables illicit actors to react rapidly to enforcement detection and reach an even broader customer base. we see fentanyl into predominant forms, prescription pills and leased into hard drugs. drug traffickers describe the pills to look like prescription drugs such as the commonly known oxycontin, percocet, vicodin,
xanax or stimulants like adderall. the adulteration of fentanyl into hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine continue to be a rising concern as well. illicit actors are likely at alternating these drugs to increase their potency and addictive properties to grow market demand. since 2018, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl are the leading drivers of most drug-induced overdose deaths reported in the u.s. provisional data from the national center for health statistics predicted almost 107,000 overall drug overdose deaths in the u.s. for 12 months ending in november, 2021 and appeared to have hit the mark. synthetic drugs attributed to 75% of those overdose deaths. with this understanding of the illicit fentanyl landscape, what are we doing about it? the primary emphasis is collaboration. end of the intelligence agency is working with the dhs intelligence enterprise and of
the intelligence committee to collect research and analyze information on the transnational criminal organizations. the assessments and informed decision-making and operational planning across dhs, federal agencies and state and local tribal and territorial partners to combat the transnational criminal organizations. the ina transnational organized crime mission center produces intelligence from maximum utility across law enforcement and at all levels and the intelligence community. in terms of fentanyl specifically, ina remains forward leaning by challenging historical understanding of drug flow. we strive to embrace alternative analysis because fentanyl is like any other traditional drug threat. we assess the transnational organized criminal activity holistically to include other associated crimes and to seek and disrupt and dismantle the networks responsible for this opioid epidemic. thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you
today to discuss this critical threat. we remain committed to keeping the homeland safe, secure, resilient by safeguarding the nation's terrorist criminal and other state actors. >> thank you for your testimony and i now recognize mr. florez to summarize his statement for five minutes. >> chairwoman, ranking member higgins and distinguished members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to appear to discuss u.s. customs and border protection efforts to combat the illicit flow of drugs into the united states. cbp held its annual last week. thirty-seven names are added to the monument. the names of 37 officers and agents who carry out the important mission. i'm proud to represent the brave women, dedicated men and women of cbp who work tirelessly every day and often in dangerous and difficult positions to protect the border, homeland and committee. today i'd like to talk about the
trends in the broader border environmentand that disce multilayered enforcement approach to countering the drug threats. as you are aware the influence of the transnational criminal organizations continues to expand across the border. it increasingly demonstrates the ability to manufacturers sophisticated synthetic opioids and analogs that are difficult to detect and identify. they also continuously adjust operations including shifting to drugs like synthetic opioids that can be concealed and transported into smaller quantities to circumvent detection, introduction by law enforcement. in fy 21, more than 450 tons of illegal drugs the majority being marijuana but also cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamines. nationwide has increased sharply and in fy 21 the more than 11,000 pounds of fentanyl and more than double what is seized
in fy 20 and about four times as much as in fy 19. most including fentanyl into the united states through the southwest border ports of entry. they are brought in by privately owned vehicles, commercial vehicles and even pedestrians. although frequent now, other synthetic opioids also are encountered and expressed shipments and most illicit is synthesized in mexico. we use an aggressive strategic enforcement approach that leverages advanced information analytics and intelligence. sophisticated detection and scientific laboratory capabilities and strong partnerships to combat cross-border flow of drugs. cbp's national center uses advanced data along with law enforcement and intelligence records to identify high-risk shipments, cargo and travelers before they return. they also use predictive
analysis focused on providing timely and actionable information to the partners and front line officers and agents. in the international express consignment environments, they obtain electronic shipping information providing valuable insight into inbound parcels. the operation environments of sophisticated detection technologies including nonintrusive systems that reliably and quickly detect this narcotic within shipments passing of belongings, cargo containers, commercial trucks, privately owned vehicles. canine operations also provide invaluable detection capabilities as cbp training programs maintains the largest and most diverse law enforcement canine training program in the country. furthermore all offices for in field operations conceal the narcotic k-9 teams have completed the training to include the odor of fentanyl and
analogs. cbp enforcement approach not only focuses on efficient detection of the suspected illicit drugs but also prioritizes the identification of the substances. in the field the cbp officers use various testing devices to rapidly screen the suspected controlled substances. on-site cbp laboratories and scientists as well as the 24/7 forensic reach rec center enabled the cbp officers to submit data electronically to the cbd scientists for identification. all cbp seizure information and laboratory identification data are provided in the federal investigative partners. it is a calamitous approach that leads to the investigations, prosecution and dismantling of the networks and operations. our partners work with our partners as well as state, local, tribal, international partners to share information, collaborate and joined enforcement operations to identify, target and disrupt
illicit and drug activity. as a threat of illicit drugs persist in the communities across the united states cbp will continue to prioritize and dedicate the resources to counter to stop the flow of illicit drugs across the borders. thank you for the opportunity to testify today and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. i now recognize to summarize statements for five minutes. >> chairwoman, ranking member higgins and distinguished members of the subcommittee on border security facilitation and operations. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and discuss homeland security and investigation efforts to combat opioid smuggling. as a principal investigative component and the department of homeland security, the responsibility is to investigate and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, flooding the united states with drugs,
fueling the overdose epidemic. to do this, we conduct federal, criminal investigations at every critical location in the illicit supply chain. internationally where they operate and manufacture illegal drugs and at the nation's physical borders where the smuggler's attempt to exploit america's legitimate trade travel and finance and in the communities where criminal organizations earn substantial profits for selling poison to friends, neighbors and family members. the counter drug efforts begin abroad. the largest investigative international investigative presence within dhs comprised of hundreds of special agents strategically assigned 86 offices in 54 countries. this includes offices located in mexico where the vast majority of fentanyl is produced and throughout the asia-pacific region where the chemicals originated.
the effectiveness of our international counternarcotics efforts is greatly enhanced by the transnational criminal investigative units. composed of foreign vetted of fitted oflaw enforcement officid prosecutors who lead some of the most significant extraterritorial investigations and prosecutions. establishing 12 around the world disrupting and dismantling the precursor chemical supply chain is an integral element to the approach to stopping the flow of illicit drugs. these precursors serve as oxygen the cartels need to manufacture their poison destined for america's cities and streets. to date, hsi's efforts have resulted in the seizure of 633,000 kilograms of precursor chemicals destined for mexican cartels. many of these efforts are led by the tc value in mexico where in
addition to the season precursor shipments they also lead investigations targeting the labs where the chemicals are synthesized into illegal drugs. mexican cartels operate on an industrial scale when procuring the precursor chemicals from abroad. the introduction of the shipments has a profound effect on the volume of drugs reaching the country. the seizure of a single kilogram of the precursor can prevent the production of almost 20 kilograms of processed fentanyl. a perfect example of the efforts is for seizure in march of 2021 of 750 kilograms of the fentanyl precursor on its way to mexico. if that precursor reached the hands of the mexican cartel, it would have produced 7.4 billion doses of fentanyl destined for the hands of americans. the efforts to combat synthetic drugs continue at the border
where they are responsible for the introductions to start or continue an investigation. hsi investigations remain one of the best tools for the capabilities and stemming the flow into the united states. hsi is border enforcement security task force represent one of the agency's premier tools for turning simple border seizures into toppling investigations. the primary mission is to combat by employing a full range of state, local, federal, tribal and international law enforcement resources. there are currently 82 comprising more than 82,000 law enforcement officers and personnel representing 200 agencies. in addition, each of the 253
offices in all 50 states and multiple u.s. territories have assets to combat the flow of illicit drugs. the illicit drug supply chain in the overdose deaths throughout the country begins abroad and ends on main street. hsi along with our partners is dedicated to using its broad and unique authorities to stop illicit drugs at every critical location within the supply chain. thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you and your continued support of hsi and the critical role it plays in attacking the illicit drug supply chain. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. i would think all the witnesses for their testimony and remind the subcommittee that we will each have five minutes to question the panel. i now recognize myself for questions. i am honored to have the opportunity to ask these
questions because this is something that's been of concern and more specifically talking about persons bringing in drugs to the actual ports of entry juxtaposed to the landmass within the point of entry. the indication is approximately 194,000 pounds of fentanyl methamphetamine and heroin came in between the ports of entry. is this a fairly accurate assessment? >> thanks for the question. with regards to -- >> i'm going to ask you to give me as close to yes or no as you can. >> between the ports of entry i'm not sure on the exact number. what i do know is being responsible for the ports of entry that we see in the high
percentage of narcotics we intercept. >> assuming we have this high number, 194,000 pounds, i respect those who believe that whole post that comes in between the ports of entry so let's examine the numbers. let's look at the numbers. if you assume just this amount comes in between the points of entry, it would take 194,000 people bringing it in if each carried a thousand pounds. since we know most people can't carry a thousand pounds, this is something each person carries 500 it would take 388,000 people coming in between the ports of entry carrying 500 pounds. a good number of people can't carry 500 so let's assume 250 pounds for each person and then each person that would take
776,000 people. probably 125 pounds maybe some people can carry. it would take 1,552,000 people bringing it in between the ports of entry. it just seems to me we can accept or on except the promise that this is coming in primarily through ports of entry. is there someone on the panel who agrees with this assessment that it's coming in three primarily through theports of e? >> congressman, thank you for the question. again what we see coming through the ports of entry is what we know with regards to volume and seizures whether that is in a
container on a shipment where the tractor trailer in a vehicle or on a pedestrian. >> do you believe that we've had 152,000 people bringing in 125,000 pounds in backpacks? in one year that is what the information says. >> what i do know is the methods used to smuggle narcotics across the borders varies in different ways and whether that is by backpack, vehicle. >> i believe it is backpacks no disrespect, but do you think that 1,552,000 people are bringing it in on backpacks? most of it coming in through the points of entry. >> from my perspective being in charge of the points of entry the seizure of narcotics mostly at the point of entry.
a. >> thank you for that kind answer. friends, this is a problem. where it comes in, regardless where it comes and it is still a problem. i don't in any way you want to minimize the fact we have a problem to deal with. but i think it is difficult to conceive 1,552,000 people bringing listen carrying it between the points of entry. that number just does not add up for me and madame chair to be kind to my colleagues who all have questions i will yield back my additional 13 seconds. >> thank you. the gentle man yields back and i want to apologize i'm in a competing energy and commerce markup which is why you see me running out because there is a roll call vote and mr. green
agreeing to chair in my absence. so i want to thank the witnesses since i didn't have the chance to do that. the chair will recognize other members for questions. they may wish to ask as previously outlined and i will recognize members in the order of seniority alternating between the majority and minority members are reminded to unmute themselves when recognized for questions. the chair now recognize as the ranking member of the subcommittee, mr. higgins. >> thank you madam chair. your role with the office of intelligence and an analysis perhaps best equips you as every law enforcement professional present has insight on this but specifically regarding the percentages of content of
fentanyl that was seen in bill products and pressed prescription drugs and hustled sold onthe streets across ameriy sources tell me over the course of the last year the amount that is pressed into the average pill has increased and i'm advised of this because it is so abundant by now after almost two years of heavy crossing the volume is so heavy in the garages of the drug dealers and drug houses across the country processing this stuff into getting it out onto
the street in final form i'm told there's so much increasing the percentage to make their product a little more powerful and addictive as you stated in your opening testimony. to what extent are you seeing that's true from the intelligence and analysis perspective? >> thank you for the question. we have seen over the last couple of years a slight increase in purity, not a huge increase. >> could you clarify for america why a dealer would want to seek that sweet spot because if you push too much what would happen? >> it would increase deaths.
>> so dealers across the country they have so much fentanyl they are giving it away. they are pressing it into their final product and selling it on the streets and it's coming across the border as much as my colleagues want to point to the entry that is criminal capture and good for law enforcement but it's reflective of investigation with larger shipments and vessels easier to identify and intercept from the law enforcement investigative perspective but frontline enforcement at the border those men and women are capable of detecting, pursuing and apprehending crossing 15 at a time wearing camouflage et
cetera and they have backpacks, rolling them in a matter we haven't seen before. it doesn't take a lot to impact the opioid crisis in america. it's making its way into the streets. you can't measure that because you are not catching them because the agents are pulled into processing the citizens from other countries that are seeking asylum but those citizens and family units and individuals are seeking a better life. however they are seeking interaction with law enforcement, not avoiding it. the ones crossing are avoiding law enforcement and so much has made it to the streets you are
seeing a slight increase again just clarifying for america why a drug dealer would want to find that balance just how powerful he can make his pools without putting too much fentanyl. >> in terms of the addictive properties a seller would seek to increase our addictive if they are leasing heroin or cocaine for instance they would seek to make that more potent and addictive. in terms of the false prescriptions like xanax and adderall et cetera, that one is a little harder at least from my standpoint and my colleagues
that may have better insight. it's hard to determine why they would be so willing. most of the people who purchase it don't understand that it is leasing what they think is a legal prescription drug and so they wouldn't be incentivized to continue getting it if they don't even know they are getting it so that one is a little more difficult to understand. their belief is what is happening with those prescription drugs that are being laced they are looking to sell it as many ways as possible
we want to make sure the members get the questions in before votes. i will now recognize myself for five minutes of questions. i want to put up a chart if we may showing the correlation or i should say the lack of correlation between migration and opioid seizures. the data shows that a lien on the bottom that you see that's green is seizures happening between the ports of entry and a second is the seizures at the ports of entry and vehicle
checkpoints then if you see the bars behind it shows encounters so if you take a look at that chart you can see there is no correlation between the migration and the opioid seizures. the charge we put up at the beginning is data directly from cbp showing 91.3% of the seizures are at the points of entry so the message on honesty and data i think it's important people see the visuals to see the truth. i want to thank you for your efforts of what you do day in and day out to combat and do everything you can to keep drugs out of the country and that's why we are having the hearing to hear what congress can do. the epidemic is a public health crisis and i applaud cbp end of the department for receiving the dangerous opioid piece before
they were reach the communities. what additional resources or technology would help cbp detect and interdict opioid to the border? >> chairwoman, thank you for the question. our employees are the most vital resource. and as even despite the global pandemic, what we were able to do is dedicate ourselves to ensure staffing levels at the ports of entry were maintained at appropriate staffing levels. we are able to bring on officers and specialists to the ports of entry that we needed them so i would like to thank you for your congressional support given to us despite the declining collections during the pandemic that we were able to maintain the staffing levels. it's positioned us to respond to the increasing volume of traffic that we see coming back as we
get to the levels coming across the border. infrastructure is another important factor for us. aging ports of entry and the capabilities and with the infrastructure is for us. so again the bipartisan infrastructure that was passed the $3.4 billion to the gsa and cbp and the aspect of how we revitalize to provide the needed space for efficient and effective screening and targeting of illicit drugs coming across the border i would say last, technology for us in regards to what we are doing and the nonintrusive technology what we can do, drive through systems, looking at the primary systems where we get more efficient rates of scanning people and things coming across the border to help us make a better assessment of the
narcotics coming in. >> the next question for you. arrive heard as the majority of drugs received the ports of entry generally is coming from documented travelers. do either of you expect the terminating title 42 would result in a significant increase in the amount of drugs being smuggled into the communities? >> thank you, chairwoman. we believe we would continue to see the same scheme that we have seen in the past. we've seen some instances of migrants and drugs mixed in that but they are still rare. the human smuggling organizations are opportunistic and transactional with their operations and strongly motivated by profits so come byd
drugs and migrant smuggling and that's not a routine practice at all. to the acts with facilitating the movements are likely to keep these entities separate and minimize the risk of losing the potential revenues with a much higher value such as fentanyl. in 20 seconds if you might be able to answer. >> i will be quick so i don't get the gavel. hsi we see the same thing when we are looking at the entire criminal organization and the key network spots within the supply chain we see the drugs in human smuggling are separate. they might use the same routes but predominantly we see them coming through the ports of entry. >> thank you. my time is expired. i will yield back and recognize the representative. you are recognized for five
minutes. >> thank you madam chair. mr. florez, first want to thank you and the men and women for your service for all that you do each and every day. in april they reported 334,088 encountered along the border. the largest number ever recorded. the month this administration took office in january of last year that number was 78,414 immigrants. that is an increase of almost 300% in just 15 months total encounters under the administration taking numbers in february of 2021 are 2,000,735 encounters. a number greater than the population of 13 states. greater than the population of vermont, alaska, north and south
dakota, delaware, rhode island, montana, maine, new hampshire, hawaii, west virginia, idaho, nebraska and new mexico. at the current rate next month it will eclipse three additional states including my home state of mississippi. we know that narcotics seizures along the southwest border have continued to rise. you actually interested in page two of your testimony. you said on page 22021 cbp seized 11,201 pounds of fentanyl. over twice the number ceased in 2020. you go on to say since october 1st 2021 they seized 5,310 pounds of fentanyl. you go then to say you measure that by dosage and its
2.6 billion with a b potential doses of fentanyl were seized in 2021 and 17 billion doses of methamphetamine were seized in 2021. then to put that in perspective, you go on to say that the earth's population is approximately 7.9 billion people. the secretary has been here at the congress before and sat in the seat that you sit today to testify that the border is closed and secure and that we have operational control of the border. so my question to you is that in light of these figures that i have just spoken, do you believe that the border is closed and secure? >> thank you for the question. with regards to the field operations at the point of
entry, our priorities are and continue to be the national and economic security priorities at the points of entry along with the entirety of the united states and by doing that, we facilitate and target and screen high-risk shipments and individuals coming into the ports of entry. we do that every day the men and women operating at the ports of entry can do that and do an excellent job at that every single day as we deal with legitimate travel looking for those individuals that are looking to do the country harm in the communities we live in so we will continue to operate as we have been to ensure the national priorities are being taken care of as well as the economics. >> and i don't argue with you or disagree with you. i would agree i've been to the border on numerous occasions and met with officers of cbp. i met with community leaders. they all tell me the same thing
they feel like this administration has abandoned them. they've told us that this is the worst that they've ever seen the southwest border. and so my question for you is very simple. it's a yes or no answer. and i'm asking your personal opinion, not the opinion of the secretary or cbp. i'm asking your opinion. do you believe that our border is secure and do you believe that our border is closed? >> congressman, i will say points of entry the men and women at the field and the entirety of cbp we are doing the best job we can do given the current -- >> and i agree you need more resources and manpower and i'm not arguing that but i've got a ten seconds and i would like an answer in that ten seconds either yes or no is the border closed and is the border secure, can you answer that?
>> from the point of entry perspective the borders have been open with regards to being able to process coming across the points of entry as well as and forcing -- >> or the borders secure? >> from the point of entry perspective we have officers again doing the best they can securing the border every single day. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chair now recognizes representative clyde, the gentleman from georgia. >> thank you. the nation is facing a myriad of crisis. record high inflation, runaway washington spending and open border allowing an out-of-control number of illegal aliens and dangerous drugs to flow into the borders. the cdc recently announced more than 107,000 americans die of drug overdoses last year. of those nearly two thirds of
fatal overdoses caused by fentanyl or other synthetic opioids. that is a 23% increase from 2020. fentanyl is the ranking member has already noted is now the leading cause of death for americans the ages of 18 to 45 and it may be as much poisoning as anything else. that is an incredible statistic and it's coming across the southern border. in my home state of georgia between 2012 and 2019 fentanyl overdoses claimed the lives of 1250 individuals. last year alone customs and border protection and eight ports of entry, just ate alone seized 588 pounds coming across the border.
for each of you yes or no do you believe border security is related directly to national security? >> it's there to investigate south of the border. do you believe border security is related directly to national security? >> it's one of the factors. >> okay. between the points of entry, do you think we have a secure border? >> yes or no is fine. >> i'm going to ask you the same thing. do you believe border security is related directly to national security? >> thanks for the question. i do believe that they both are important and related, yes. >> so between the ports of entry
do you believe we have a secure southern border? >> i believe the men and women of the border petroleum cbp as a whole collectively -- >> i know you are doing the best job you can. not my question. do we have a secure southern border between the ports of entry? >> from a responsible field operations perspective, the u.s. border patrol perspective probably better answered by them but with the resources between the ports of entry -- >> i'm going to ask you the same question. do you believe the border security is directly related to national security? >> sir, yes, i do. >> do you believe we have a secure southern border between the ports of entry? >> i do i believe we have vulnerabilities.
>> you testified that last year 11,200 pounds of fentanyl was seized between the ports of entry. we had 400,000 that got away that were not called at the southern border that came into the united states possibly as many as 800,000 and many of them were carrying backpacks. so what is the average amount of a fentanyl seizure from 11,200 pounds on an annual basis what is the average amount? the border protection seizes? >> thanks for the question. it would very depending on the type or the mode of transfer. that could be in a tractor-trailer -- >> what is the average amount
per seizure that you would see? >> we can see anywhere from a kilo to potentially 15 kilos. >> so about 30 pounds anywhere from a couple of pounds to 30 pounds easily carried by an individual. is it different whether it's between the port of entry or between points of entries? >> typically end between the seizures i'm aware of have been smaller amounts. if it is in a commercial conveyance were some type of passenger vehicle those tend to be larger amounts. >> when you look at potentially 400,000 that got away and may be 2 pounds -- >> the time is expired. >> it is a potential tremendous amount we are not even seeing so i don't think there's a correlation between what you get at the port of entry and between ports of entry because we don't have that information. >> the gentleman's time is
expired. >> i yield. >> the chair will now recognize representative bishop from north carolina for his five minutes. >> thank you and i'm sorry i have another committee hearing so i'm late. but i hope i can ask questions it may well tread over the ground you've already covered. i've taken that there's been a there is been agood discussion s coming in at the ports of entry and not between, so at risk i'm sure of re-creating the wheel a little bit and maybe somebody can help me understand if we have -- a lot of what we are talking about today is which can kill an extraordinarily small amounts, so you don't have to have truckloads coming across in order to do evidence of damage. so let me just ask the question or whoever is able to help me.
why is it if you have six, 700,000, 750,000 that got away, why is there not immense risk of fentanyl entering the country? >> thank you for the question. in regards to fentanyl coming into the country at the ports of entry where we see the significant volume as it comes into the ports of entry. >> so thank you for that. i think i got that even before. the question i'm asking is another one which is that employees allowing 750,000 god always without interdicting them isn't a risk of illicit drug purposes because how could there be any harm and what i'm asking you mri wrong when i say my understanding is very small
amounts of fentanyl can kill hundreds of thousands of people why wouldn't the use of mules coming across places other than the points of entry and evading border patrol and you know we have lots of god always. why is that not a material risk? >> it's a risk on what they can be introducing in the country so it is an unknown. >> i've been given the understanding with respect to fentanyl you have four out of a salt shaker and that can kill a person. isn't that true, whether that is precisely the right number or not it's small and minuscule and can cause death in a human is that right?
>> you think what might be in a sugar packet that quantity can kill many humans, correct? >> depending on the purity of the chemical composition why isn't the introduction, isn't this a chemical weapon? >> thanks for the question. with regards to why isn't it a terrorist threat i wouldn't be the correct person to answer. >> can someone speak to live it isn't considered terrorism? i will ask whoever is confident to say something about it. you've heard of anthrax and poisons that are transmitted to
congress that could kill tons of people. how is fentanyl less dangerous than anthrax or ricin? >> anybody know that it's less dangerous? >> let me say in the 53 seconds that i've got that remain if i understand the thrust of the hearing to suggest that the biden administration's catastrophic relinquishment of control of the border is not jeopardizing america with a flood of drugs because they are interdicted at the points of entry and are not otherwise coming across, that is lunacy. when you have huge numbers of got away is because you overloaded the process, there is very good prospect that you're going to see the large quantities come in and i see no way different than the risk of a terrorist with another type of
dangerous chemical. i'm sorry i didn't save any time to yield to you but i will give you whatever i've got. >> i think the gentle man and i would like to submit for the record a media article saying regarding the border, we are going to lose. it's unsustainable. >> no objection the article is admitted. thank you and the time is expired. i want to thank the witnesses, gentlemen, for your testimony and the members for the questions. i would be interested in continuing the conversation with you and your team as to how we can prevent the drugs from reaching the american communities and focus on the solution and i think you for offering some of the things congress can get do to be helpful so i will reach out after the hearing to continue the conversation so we can get two solutions. the members of the subcommittee
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