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tv   Homeland Security Officials Testify on Fentanyl Opioid Epidemic  CSPAN  May 20, 2022 6:52pm-8:01pm EDT

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nonfiction books, and a 9:00 p.m. eastern, journalist matthew - with his book, the rise with history of the american wing and since the early as 20 the populist channel to mainstream conservatives which culminated in the election president trump in a 10:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, secretary of defense market - shares his book sacred oath, as i'm serving in the trump administration interviewed by retired marine corps major general national defense industrial association chairman, arnold and watch book tv, every sunday on "c-span2" and find full scheduling a program guide, watch online anytime at booktv.org. >> now hearing on efforts to combat the physical opioid epidemic and officials from u.s. officials and homeland security testified for an hour and ten minutes.
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[background sounds]. >> the committee on border security and location operations come the hoarder, not injection the chair is authorized to declare recess at any time and thank you for joining today's hearing to examine the department of homeland security efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in the past few years have weighed heavily on the american people, that once-in-a-lifetime virus and resulting economic it slowdown exasperated the existing public health crisis including our nations struggle and drug addiction and overdose deaths and affect data from the center the disease control and prevention suggest that drug overdoses have increased sharply since the pandemic began. they believe more than 107,000 overdose deaths occurred in 2021, breaking it all previous
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yearly records the opioid crisis in the united states claims more like teacher and firearms and suicide, homicide, or motor vehicle accident and heckling the drugs crisis is one of our most crushing national security law enforcement and public healther challenges pretty we mt do more to protect the american lives and i'm grateful to see this in menstruation tackling the challenge in our announcement president biden released a new national drug control strategy focused on the actions needed to reduce overdoses, and save a life in hs actions include disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking operations which are witnesses here today play a key role in as we all aware, the race in the mid- under misuse of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, have the oranges in the u.s. food and drug administration's approval of thept prescription opioid painkillers oxycontin, in
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1995 was falsely pocketed as a nonaddictive pain management medication and the increase prescription opioid dependent and addiction became an increased demand for synthetic opioids which have transnational organization have exploited ando almost all of the synthetic opioids going to americans are manufactured outside of the united states and smugly of these drugs into our country is an issue biden administration and impress her focus on tackling in the past honeys it fentanyl, which frequently shipped directly to the united states, in small high-purity quantities pretty it was also shipped to mexico this mobile, across the border however, that started took steps to police fentanyl and related drugs, production and distribution has increasingly shifted to mexico and is never been more important than has a cooperation with mexican authorities and disrupt the movement of hard drugs like
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heroin and fentanyl across the border and this is exactly what the biden administration is doing this administration alsog understands the overwhelming majority of hard drugs, more than 90 percent are smuggled through legal ports of entry and undocumented travelers and not in between them and if you look upon the screen, you will see a pie chart that uses the data to illustrate this and that big blue section of the pie chart, which 91.3 percent, coming into ports of entry. rather than waste the resources, really well, or procuring and entering the valleys by the biden administration has directed resources to ports of entry to interdict opioid shipments where they are arriving braided they have also focus attention on disrupting and dismantling the trends nationalri criminal organizatios this one ofri these drugs into r communities this like the
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talking points, i expect we will hear today from some of my colleagues i would like to be clear that migrants seeking asylum are not responsible for the vast majority of drugs arriving in our communities and according to the cdp data, there is no correlation between the volume of hard drugs being seized at the border and the number of migrants encountereded and for example we saw seizures fentanyl and heroin reach currency levels in june of 2020 and at the time migration was still unnaturally suppressed by the motor closures throughout central america high levels of opioids another legal drugs are see thepp ports victory during times about fight in relatively low migration in the department of homeland security is in a unique position to respond to this crisis in both with this investigative arm and through
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personnel and technology station at the border including a known entry inspection systems and radiation technology to scan the travelers, vehicles and cargo and to enter into the united states on the narcotics in this technology is critical and i support the departments for achieving 100 percent scan rate and however, much more work needs to be done currently this into percent printed vehicles and 15 percent of commercial vehicles art screen for narcotics at the southwest border and today b i look forwad to hearing more about the use of technology and k-9 units to detect opioids, reports of entry and i would also look forward to hearing more about hsi efforts to investigate transnational criminal organizations and drug supply chains to intercept drug shipments heading to the united states pretty committing the students drugs is no easy task and enforcement alone will not
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solve the challenge tackling the opioid epidemic in our country requires a whole society approach gives me on the skills of border enforcement nonetheless, the department of homeland security has an important role in this fight and we must identify and resolve vulnerabilities especially as the traffickers continue to look out their methods in today's hearing will provide us with an opportunity to learn more of the department's efforts challenges in combating the opioid epidemic it i look forward to a frank conversation on current situation at dinner witnesses recommendation on how congress can take action if to further protect our communities and without the turnout recognizes the ranking member of the subcommittee, mr. higgins of louisiana for an opening statement. >> thank you and i appreciate the professionals that are here with those today i want to communicate clearly to americans
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that are joining us today. through this televised hearing. and the elders of the communities across america, to clarify a few things so you can grasp what we arere dealing with in the country now the united states is currently undergoing a horrific drug epidemic crisis and fentanyl, and synthetic opioid is 80 - 100 times stronger than morphine predict and according to the dea, our own drug enforcement administration, 2 milligrams offense and all can kill a person by ingestion inhalation, or even absorption through theng scan it and fentanyl is now believing because death of americans 18 - 45 years old the border patrols have ceased in a fentanyl just last year to kill
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2.4 billion people, over seven times the population of the united states of america to help america is paying attention to what i'm sharing here today. this should come as no shock reasonable assessment of what is happening in our southern border, every american can look at that with record numbers of illegal crossings driven byat cartels that make the monies from trafficking drugs and human beings predict in its reasonable and pretty he's a connection to make to understand that illegal crossings at the border, it's out of control by any measure is directly related to the opioid s a nation right now in the deaths that we are experiencing, 100 set one or 7000 americans have died from opioid bonus youe
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never seen numbers like this before matter where your in law enforcement, this is touching your community and if you're an elder of your community, youngsters from your area, that you love and you care for, he has suffered a loss and deaths in these kids are taking pills then oppressed by the dealers with equipment to buy online, really bill them themselves to make bill presses the raw materials that they are getting from somewhere might be a clue where they're getting it from if you look at our southern border and this isf just reality my colleagues, they like to use percentages across the aisle on graphs like this and entertaining with no more because they talk about thece percentages of seizures predict and obviously, ports of entry in a large ships were trucks and
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professional law enforcement intercepts large shipments and quantities of drugs based upon investigative work and data from confidential informants you don't stumble across a large shipment of drugs on the highway in the belly of the ship, or the cargo truck, you don't stumble across that stuff, you're watching for that vessel you're watching for the vehicle and your intercepting it when he comes into your jurisdictional authority if you confidential informant was right and we have a big drug seizure had the law enforcement guys know what i'm saying is true and so of course, you can intercepting the large volumes of quantity of drugs in the halls of a ship, as compared to 200 backpack. it across the border look-alikes like to say, the migrants
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seeking asylum are not impacting this drug prices going that's intellectually unsound and even disingenuous because the young man that are crossing our border i think we are pushing million this last year and this year, official numbers are about 400,000 last year and unknown this year printed and they call it otherwise because he got away and that is seeking a solemn, seeking asylum requires interaction it with law enforcement professionals at the border and to begin a process of asylum and you don't do that with a backpack i'm drugs. in a masking to be genuine about this conversation read on my side of thet aisle, want to have this conversation a, we can give the law enforcement professionals the assets and the assistance they need to do their job and restore american sovereignty at our southern border and same america from
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death by overdose that we are experiencing right now lincoln not allow ourselves to be pulled into this false narrative of that, don't pay no attention to the method behind the curtains, move along and 2.4 million illegal crossings last year, and thousands and thousands of god reason these are stout men a lot of them are hearing back next drugs it does not take a lot of fentanyl to to produce thousands and thousands and thousands of hills that are pressed to look like cynics, and other drugs and oxycontin and is on the streets for five and ten and $25 a pop at parties were your teenagers are going pretty and buying these pills they are dying. so i encourage all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to engage honestly about what is
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happening in market today i very much look for to hearing from her law enforcement professionals today metal chair, i yield. >> i want to think the ranking member members are reminded the subcommittee will operate according to the guidelines laid over the german ranking member in 2020 with and without objection thee members, not in subcommittee shall be - to question the witnesses. >> it and will move on to the ranking member of the full committee. >> and now i would like to welcome our panel of witnesses. >> mr. brian so, the executive director of the transnationalut organized crime missions center and dhs optics of intelligence and analysis, mr. people arises executive assistant commissioner of cdp office of field operations predict mr. steve
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hagan, has the assistant director for countering ice homeland security investigation and without objections of the witnesses statements it will be inserted into the record and i will now ask each witness to summarize his statement for five minutes beginning with mr. salk. >> distinguished members of the subcommittee, on border facility operations thank you for the opportunity to discuss the growing opioid epidemic from the perspective of the dhs office of intelligence and analysis i am honored to represent the dedicated intelligence professionals at ina who work to keep the homeland safe, secure and resilient persona look like to provide information of the illicit fentanyl supply chain. it is cheaper, faster, and more
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resilient than plant -based illicit drugs such as hera one. in mexico -based drug trafficking organizations, mainly new generation cartels are leading manufacturers and smugglers a fentanyl to the u.s. these cartels import precursor chemicals into mexico mostly from china, and to a lesser extent, indian suppliers adapt to enforcement pressure and legal restrictions by adjusting advertising or changing the chemical structures that fall outside of the existing drug controls do use chemicals used the synthetic drugs also present additional precursor challenges as many have legitimate use pretty and after obtaining precursors, all production involves three stages, revelatory synthesis and bill processing operations and staging for cross-border and once a fentanyl and synthesizing was a bill pressing operation ie mexico, can produce up to
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150,000 tablets a day pretty pills are then staged has - houses along mexico's northern border in mexico -based drug traffickers primarily use personally owned and commercial vehicles to v smuggle fentanyl into the u.s. through land order horse victory the approval will later addresses in more and once in the country, the affiliates distributed synthetic drugs to large distribution hubs such as los angeles, chicago, atlanta and new york phenol networks are among the world first digital native drug networks. in direct to consumer transactions, you socially expand upon the more traditional distribution onto local hubs predict in this e-commerce model also enables illicit actors to react rapidly to enforcement detection and reach an even e broader customer base. we see fentanyl into predominant
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forms, fake prescription pills and laced into hard drugs read drug traffickers discuss fentanyl bills to look like prescription drugs, such as the commonly known oxycontin, percocet vicodin tenex, or stimulus like adderall predict and adulteration of and hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine, continue to be a rising concern as well illicit actors are likely adulterating these rents to increase the properties to growth market demanded and since 2018, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl are the leading drivers of most drug it is overdose deaths reported in the u.s. >> data from cdc's national center for health statistics predicted minimalist 107,000 overall drug over deaths deaths in the u.s., for 12 months endin november of 2021, and a peer to hit the market synthetic drugs attributed to 75 percent have
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those overdose deaths pretty with his understanding of the fentanyl landscape, what are we doing about it, and her primary emphasis is collaboration as intelligence agency isel working with dhs intelligence enterprise and theen intelligence community to collect research and analyzet information on transnational criminal organizations that are assessments informed decision-making and operational planning across dhs federal agencies and state local tribal and territorial partners, to combat transnational criminal organizations predict transnational organized crime missions center produces intelligence for maximum utility across law enforcement and at all levels in the intelligence community pretty in terms of fentanyl specifically, annie means for leaning by challenging our historical understanding of drug flow. and we strive to embrace alternative analysis because fentanyl is like any other traditional drug threats,
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reassess the transnational organized criminal activity holistically to include associated crimes it is a tutor to disrupt this middle that works responsible for this opioid epidemic. thank you again for the opportunity to discuss this critical threat and we remain committed to keep homeland safe and secure and resilient by safeguarding the nation's terrorist criminal and other threat actors. >> thank you for your testimony andct now recognize the next person for five minutes. >> chairwoman, ranking member, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today to discuss u.s. customs and border protection's efforts to combat the illicit flow of drugs into the united states it braided cdp told us annual memorial last week, andee this year 37 names e added to the monument and aims at 37 officers and ages who gave their lives caring out the
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important mission and proud to represent the brave women and dedicated men and women of cdc who work tirelessly everyday and often dangerousan and difficult condition to protect our borders are not homeland it in our communities and they would like to focus highlight the seizures in the trends in the bordering environment and the discussed the multilayer enforcement approach to countering the drug threat predict is your worth their inch different influence of criminal organizations continues to expand across our borders and they increasingly demonstrated the ability to manufacture sophisticated synthetic opioids and analogs difficult to detect and identify the also continue adjust operations including shifting to drugs like synthetic opioids that can be concealed and transported in smaller quantities and to circumvent detection interdiction by law enforcement to an fy 21 they've seized more than four and 50 tons of illegal drugs and the
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majority being marijuana but also cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamines nationwide the seizures have increased sharply fy 21 from the cdc 61000 pounds of fentanyl, double m the weight in fy 20 and about four times as much as an fy 19 and we will see these drugs including entering into the united states through the southwest border ports of entry and they are brought in by privately owned vehicles commercial vehicles, and even pedestrians, much less frequent now, fentanyl another synthetic opioids at also encountering n e international males expressed confinement shipment in most illicit fentanyl is synthesized in mexico pretty were using aggressive teaching enforcement approach that leverages advanced information analytics and intelligence sophisticatedbi detection and scientific laboratory capabils, and strong partnerships to come back to a cross-border flow of drugs and cdb national targeting
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center, as advanced data along with law enforcement and intelligent records to identify suspect high risk the ship's cargo and travelers before they reach our borders predict entities he also uses predictable analysis focusus on providing timely and actionable information to our partners in our outline ages pretty in the international mail consignment environments they obtained electronic shipping information providing valuable insights into and down parcels. all operations environments havs sophisticated detection technologies including nonintrusive commonly called in i either reliably and quickly detect the presence of suspect illegal narcotics within shipments passenger belonging some cargohi containers, commercial trusts, railcars, privatelyl owned vehicles. canine operations also provided detection capabilities in the canine training program,
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maintains the largest ag and mot diverse law enforcement canine training program in the country. furthermore, whole office and fielde operations concealed humans in our product canine teams have completed training to include fentanyl and analogues city piece enforcement approach not only focuses on efficient detection of suspected drug summa but also prioritizes with identification of substances and in the field the s cdb officers use various devices to rapidly screen suspected controlled substances it on-site cdp laboratory and scientists as well as 24th seven forensic center, animals the officers to submit data electronically to cdp scientists for identification and all cdp seizure information laboratory identification data, provided to them in the federal investigative partners and is a collaborative approach that we at least two investigations and prosecutions and dismantling of
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the networks and operations. in our partners, they are critical we work closely with our federal partners as well as the local tribal international partners to share the information collaborate in the enforcement operations tod identify the target and disrupt illicit and drug activity as a threat if you if this truck persists in our communities across the united states, they will continue to prioritize netiquette resources under tco's disrupt the flow of the illicit drugs across our borders thank you for the opportunity to testify today. >> thank you for your testimony. and now recognize the next person to summarize his statement for five minutes. >> it chairwoman and ranking member hankins and distinguished members of the house subcommittee on border security, facilitation and operations ande thank you for the opportunity td appear before you discuss homeland security investigations efforts to combat s opioid
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smuggling that is a principal investigative component of the department home on saturday were for investigating a dismantling transnational criminal organizations and funding the united states with drugs, feeling the overdose epidemic and to do this hsi ducts federal criminal investigations at every critical location in the illicit supply e chain and internationay come over tco's operatingat manufacture illegal drugs and enter nation's physical borders, we are smugglers attempt to exploit america's legitimate trade travel and finance in our communities, were criminal organizations earn substantial profits from the selling poisoning to our friends, neighbors, and family members and they began abroad and has the largest investigative international investigative presence within dhs and comprised of hundreds of special agents and strategically
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assigned to any six offices in 54 countries this includes offices locateded in mexico with vast majority is produced and where precursor originate and thein effectiveness of her international efforts is greatly enhanced by hsi transnational criminal investigative or tci use and they are composed of law enforcement officials and prosecutors who lead some of hsi significant extraterritorial investigations and prosecution targeting tco's and hsi 12's across the world is just something dismantling the fentanyl and methamphetamine precursor chemical supply chain and hsi approach stopping the flow precursor service oxygen to cartels manufacturers their poison for merck n in cities and
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streets antedate hsi efforts have resulted in of 633,000 that precursor from the mexican cartels and led by mexico in addition to the precursor hechemical shipments, leadingin investigations targeting the labs for the chemicals are synthesized, into illegal drugs. mexican cartels operate on an industrial scale, when procuring precursor chemicals from abroad braided in the introduction of the shipments have as a profound effect on the volume of drugs reaching our entry in seizure of single precursor can prevent the production of almost 20 kilograms of fentanyl and a perfect example of hsi efforts as ats seizure march 2021 of 750 kilograms on its way to mexico that precursor had reached the hands of artillery
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it would've produced 7.4 million doses of fentanyl destined to the hands and continues at the border that were hsi responsible for responding to all cdp a introductions and to start or continue an investigation and the investigations remain one of the best tools for degrading the capabilities and similar flow of the opioid into the united states and hsi border and reinforcement taskforces are best taskforces represents one of thent agencies premier tool returning simple border seizures in the tco investigations pretty the primary missionli of the bet is too combat tco by pointing a full range of state, local, federal, tribal and international law enforcement resources and personally there are 82 best comprising more than 2000 law enforcement officers
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and personnel representing 200 agencies buried in addition to the best each of their 253 offices, in all 50 states and multiple u.s. territories, dedicate assets to combat the flow of illicit drugs in the illicit drug supply chain, feeling the overdose death throughout the country, begin abroad and ends on main street predict hsi come along with her partners, is dedicated to using his broad and unique authorities to stop illicit drugs at every critical location within the supply chain card and thank you againu for the opportunity to appear before you, and for your continued support of hsi the critical role plays in the attacking the illicit drug supply chain and look forward hear questions. >> thank you for your testimony, and i think all of the witnesses for the testimony to remind the subcommittee that we will each have five minutes to question
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the panel predict by now recognize myself from questions. i'm honored to have the opportunity to ask these questions because this is something that has been a concern and more specifically, you are talking about bringing in drugs and the actual course of the entry as opposed to the landmass within the poorest between course of entry card and the indication is that approximately 194,000 pounds of fentanyl, kevin penniman and harold when in between the ports of entry, and this is a fairly accurate assessment. >> congressman think you for the question then in regards to narcotic. >> we do this but i have a
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predicate avoid ask you to give me close you get to guess budgeting is a real.ts >> i'm not sure on the exact number but what i do know is being responsible for our ports of entry, that we see the high percentage of narcotics that t e intercept at our ports of entry. >> assuming we have this high number, i respect those who believe that most of it comes in between ports of entry and let's examine the numbers, let's just look at the numbers, if you assume that just this amount comes in between the ports of entry, it would take 194,000 people bringing it in if each carried about a pound. as we know most people can't carry a thousand pounds for melissa so with that they carry 500 pounds and it would take
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388,000 people coming in between ports of entry carrying 500 pounds pretty good number of people cannot carry 500 pounds •-ellipsis in the 250 pounds for each person house, that would take 776,000 people. and it probably 11205 pounds may be about for some people can carry it would take 1 million, 500, 52000 people bringing it in between ports of entry. it just seems to me that we cannot accept the premise of his coming in primarily through the ports of entry. his or someone on panel who agrees of this assessment that this is coming in primarily through the ports of entry.
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>> congressman tom thank you for the question himes again, we see coming through the ports of entry, this will be know in regards to volume and seizures whether that senate container shipment or tractor-trailer in a vehicle for on the pedestrian coming in through the port. >> me ask you this, do you believe that we've had million 500 - more people bring in 125,000 pounds and backpacks. >> in one12 year, that's with te information so. >> congressman, whether you know is that the message use they vary in different whether that is by backpacks or vehicles or drones.t >> i believe it's backpacks no disrespect, but do you think that 101,552,000 people, are
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bringing it in the backpacks or as most of the coming in to the ports of entry. >> from my perspective, being in charge of the parliamentary, we see is the seizure of narcotics costly reports of injury to my pthink you and thank you for te kind answer. this is a problem, where it comes in regardless is where it comes in, it is still a problem and i don't in any way want to minimize the fact that we have a problem to deal with what i do think that it is difficult to conceive of 1,552,000 people bringing this and carrying it between ports of entry and that number just does not add up for me. and we can't have my colleagues who will, will yield baffling >> thank you and i want to
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apologize, i many competing energy and commerce markup which is why you see me running out because there's a roll call vote in mr. green, graciously agreed to chair in my absence and so i want to thank the witnesses since i did not have a chance to do that, the chair will not recognize of the members wereog questions and they may wish to ask the witnesses as previously outlined and i will recognize the members in order of seniority and alternating between the majority andnd minority members are reminded to unmute themselves, when recognize were questions that turnout recognizes the ranking members of the subcommittee. >> thank you and mr. brian sulc, with the office of intelligence and analysis, best equips you to
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answer for the purposes here, every law enforcement professional present to has insight onw this but i would le to ask you specifically guarding the percentages of content, a fentanyl that we are seeing in pill products and pressed into false prescription drugs primarily and sold in the streets of america or across america predict my sources tell me that over the course of the last year, that the amount of fentanyl is pressed into the average bill, has increased and i'm advised that is because fentanyl is so abundant to andec so abundant by now after almost two years, very heavy crossings at the border. the volume of fentanyl is so
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heavy, and mris use the drug dealers and drug houses across the country, then a process in itself is not getting it out into the streets and final use of form, i'm told is so much of it, the there's an increase in the percentage of fentanyl to make their products a little more powerful, more addictive as you stated in your opening testimony. .. 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 pur not a huge increase, but it had increased.
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wanting to see that sweet spot balance. what would happen? thank you dealers across the country. they have so much they are giving it away. the final project that they are selling on the street. as much as my colleagues want to point the force eventually cleared it is good for law enforcement. reflectiveness of investigations and confidential informants. a larger shipment, vehicles and vessels. easier to identify and intercept law enforcement investigative perspective. our front-line enforcement at the border, those men and women
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are quite capable of detecting and pursuing and apprehending these stout young men crossing 10-15 at a time wearing camouflage. they have backpacks. camelback's with water. they are rolling in a manner we have not seen before. they're certainly carrying drugs in their backpack. it does not take a lot of it to impact the opioid crisis in america. it's making its way into the streets. you cannot measure that because you are not catching those guys. who are they processing? the citizens from other countries that are seeking asylum. those citizens, those family units and individuals seeking a better life in america, god bless them. we wish they would. those guys are seeking interaction with law
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enforcement. they are not avoiding it. the one crossing it between the force of entry, carrying backpacks are avoiding law enforcement. so much fentanyl has made it to the street. you have seen a slight increase. why a drug dealer would want to find that balance making his pills without putting too much fentanyl. explain that to america, please. >> sir, in terms of the addictive properties, a seller would seek to increase the addictive properties, to increase how addictive, if they are lacing heroin or cocaine, for instance, they would beta seeking to make that more potent and more addictive.
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in terms of the false prescription drugs like xanax and adderall and et cetera, that one is a little hard, at least from my standpoint and my colleagues may have better insight. that one is harder to determine why they would be willing to have such a high death by overdose rate. simply because the way it is purchased, most of the people that purchase it do not understand that fentanyl is lacing a legal prescription drus they would not be incentivized to continue getting it if they don't even know they are getting it. it's a little bit more difficulc to understand. and talking to our analysts, their belief is what is
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happening with those prescription drugs that are being laced is that they are just looking to sell it as many ways as possible. >> my time has expired. i thank you for your answers. madam chair, i yield. >> the gentleman's time has expired. i was trying to be gracious there. 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. this is a graph i am happy to make available. taken straight from customs and border protection data. the line at the bottom that you see that is green is seizures
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happening between the ports of entry. that blue line that you see which is the big one at the top is the seizures at the port of entry and vehicle checkpoint. you can see the huge disparity there. the bars behind there, that showed encounters at the border. if you take a look at that chart, you will see that there is no correlation between migration and the opioid seizures. i just want to remind folks at the chart we put up at the beginning, the pie chart is data directly showing 91.3% of seizures are due to the ports of entry. staying on message on honesty and data, i think it is important that people see the visuals to see the truth. gentlemen, i want to thank you t for your efforts on what you do day in and day out to combat and
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do everything you can to keep drugs out of this country. that is why we are having this hearing. the opioid epidemic is a health crisis and i applaud the department. mr. florez, if i may, what additional resources or technology would help detect and interdict opioids at the border? >> chairwoman, thank you for the question. our employees are most vital resources. even despite a global pandemic, what we were able to do is really dedicate ourselves to ensure staffing levels at our ports of entry were maintained at our appropriated staffing levels. able to bring on officers and specialists to ports of entry that we needed them. i would like to thank you, the congressional support given to
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us despite a decline in collection during the pandemic that we were able to maintain our staffing levels has positioned us, put us in a better position to respond to the increasing has we get to pre-pandemic levels of trade and travel coming across our borders infrastructure is also another important factor for us.nd what our capabilities are and what infrastructure is for us. again, the bipartisan infrastructure law that was just past, the $3.4 billion to gsa, an important aspect of how we vitalize ports of entry really provides the needed space for efficient and effectiveac screening inspections targeting of illicit drugs coming across our border there. i would say lastly, technology for us. in regards to what we are doing with nonintrusive technology, drive-through systems, looking
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at pre-primary systems where we will get more efficient rates and scanning's of people and things coming across our border in order to help us make aor better assessment of narcotics coming in. >> thank you. the next question is for you. what i have heard is that the majority of drugs are seized at the port of entry. do either of you expect terminating title 42 resulting in a significant increase in thi amount of drugs being smuggled into our communities? >> thank you, chairwoman. we believe that we would continue to see the same scheme that we have seen in the past. we've seen some instances of migrants and drugs as a mixed event, but they are still rare.
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human smuggling organizations are opportunistic and transactional with their operations. they are strongly motivated by profits. combined drugs and migrant smuggling events are not really a routine practice at all. the acts of facilitating this are likely to keep these entities separate to minimize the risk of losing the potential revenue, the much higher value drugs such as fentanyl. >> thank you. if you may be able to answer -- >> i will be quick so i don't get the gavel. >> we see the same thing. when we are looking at the entire organization and looking at the key network spots within the supply chain we see that drugs and human smuggling are separate. they may use the same routes but we predominantly see the same
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ones. >> great. thank you. my time has expired. i will yield back. i will recognize representative guest. you arear now recognized for fie minutes. >> thank you, madam chairman. i want to thank you and the men and women for your service, for all that you do each and every day. in april reported 234,088 immigrants encountered along our border. the largest number ever recorded the month that this administration took office, january of last year, that number was 78,414 immigrants. that is an increase of almost 300% in just 15 months. total encounters under this administration taking numbers since february 2021 are
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2,000,735 encounters. a number greater than the population of 13 states. a number 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 the additional states including my home state i of mississippi. we know that narcotics seizures along the southwest border have continued to rise. you actually address that iner page two of your testimony. you say on page two that in fiscal goal year 202,111,201 pounds of fentanyl. over twice the number and physical year 2020. you go on to say since october october 1, 2021 cbp has seized
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5310 pounds of fentanyl. you go on to say that if you measure that by dosage unit that 2.6 billion, billion with a b, potential doses of fentanyl were seized in fiscal year 2021 and 17 billion with a b, doses of methamphetamine were seized in 2021. to put that into perspective you go on to say that the earth's population is approximately 7.9 billion people. secretary has been here to congress before. he has sat in the very see that you said today.. he is testifying that the border is closed, the border is secure and we have operational control of the border. and, so, my question to you, mre figures that i've just spoken,
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do you believe that our border is closed and do you believe that our border is secure? >> congressman, thank you for the question. in regards to field operations, our priorities are and continue to be our national and economic security priorities at our ports of entry along the entirety of the united states. by doing that, we inspect, we facilitate, we target, we screen high risk shipments and individuals coming into our ports of entry. we do that every day. our men and women can do that and do an excellent job every single day. as there dealing with legitimate trade and travel.ar looking to do our country harm. we will continue to operate as we have been in ensuring our national priorities are being taken care of as well as our
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economic priorities. >> i do not argue with you. i do not disagree with the. i would agree with you. i've been to the border on numerous occasions. i have met with officers, i have met with community leaders. they all tell me the same thing. they feel like this administration has abandoned them. this is the worst they have ever seen the southwest border. my question to you is very simple. a yes or no answer. i am asking your personal opinion. i am not asking the opinion off the secretary. i'm not asking the opinion of cbp. i am asking your opinion. do you believe that our border is secure and do you believe that our border is closed? >> congressman, ports of entry, the men and women from field operations at the ports ofnd entry, we are doing the best job that we can do. >> and i agree with you.
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you need more resources, you need more manpower. i am not t arguing that. i have 10 seconds and i would like an answer and that 10 seconds. yes or no. is the border closed and is the border secure? could you please enter that. >> our borders have been opened. coming across our ports of entry as well as enforcing. >> our border secure? >> from a port of entry perspective we have officers doing the best that they can in securing this border every single day. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chair now recognizes representative, the gentlemanow from georgia. >> thank you. our nation is currently facing a myriad of crises. runaway washington spending in an open southern border that is allowing an out-of-control number of illegal aliens and illegal and dangerous drugs flow
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into our borders. the cdc recently announced that more than 107,000 americans died of drug overdoses lost year. of those deaths two thirds of fatal overdoses were caused by fentanyl or another synthetic opioid. that is a 23% increase from 2020. fentanyl, as ranking member higgins has already noted, isus now the leading cause of death of americans from the ages 18- 18-45. and it may be as much fentanyl poisoning as anything else.in that is an incredible statistic. that is a heartbreaking statistic.c. that is coming across our southern border. in my home state of georgia between 2012 and 2019, the overdoses claimed the lives of 1250 individuals. last year alone customs and border protection and eight ports of entry, just eight, eight alone, 588 pounds coming
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across the border.ng that is enough to kill over 133 million people. kill all the residents of georgia over 12 times. so, for each of you, i will start with you, yes or no. do you believe that border security is related directly to national security? >> investigating south of the border. yes or no would be fine, sir. >> do you believe that border security is related directl to national security? >> it is one of the factors of national security. >> okay. all right. do you think we have a secure border? yes or no is fine. >> not theno one to answer the question as it pertains. >> so you don't know. >> no, sir. >> okay. all right. mr. florez, i'm going to ask you
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the same thing. do you believe that border security is related directly to national security? >> congressman, thank you for the question. they both are important and they are related, yes. >> between our ports of entry, do you believe we have a secure southern border? >> i believe the men and women in the u.s. border patrol as a whole collectively, we are putting -- >> i know you're doing the best job you can. that is not my question. my question is do we have a secure southern border between our ports of entry? >> from a responsible for from the field operations perspective, from the u.s. border patrol perspective probably better answered by them. with the resources. >> okay. all right. i'm going to ask you the same question. do you believe that border security is related directly to national security?
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>> sir, yes, i do. >> okay. thank you.er do you believe we have a secure border between our ports of entry? >> i do. >> thank you. that's fine. mr. florez, you testified that last year, 11,200 pounds of fentanyl was seized between ports of entry in between ports of entry. correct? now, we had 400,000 got a ways, we think, people that were not caught at the southern border that came into the united states. possibly as many as 800,000. many of them were carrying backpacks. what is the average amount of a seizure? 11,200 pounds on an annual basis, what is the average amount that border protectionun seizes? >> thanks for the question. you mean per seizure? >> i'm sorry, yes.
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that would vary depending on the type or the mode that it was being transferred, smuggled. that could be in a tractor-trailer. >> i get that. what is the average amount per seizure that you would see? >> anywhere from a kilo to potentially 15, 15 kilos. >> 15 kilos. about 30 pounds. a couple of pounds to 30 pounds easily carried by an individual. all right. is it different whether it is the port of entry or between the port of entry? >> typically a between the ports the seizures that i am aware of have been smaller amounts.nt a commercial conveyance or some type of passenger vehicle, thost tends to be larger amounts. >> okay. 400,000 got a ways and you are looking at maybe 2 pounds. >> the time has expired.
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>> potentially a tremendous amount we are not even seeing. i do not think there is a correlation between the port of entry and what you get between port of entry is because we don't have that information. >> gentlemen, time has expired. >> i yield. >> time is expired. the chair will now recognizes representative bishop from north carolina for his five minutes. >> thank you. i have another committee hearing so i am late. i hope i can ask a question.ho it may well tread over ground you have well covered. a good discussion about the drugs coming in at the ports of entry and not between the ports of entry. at risk of re-creating the wheel a little bit, maybe somebody can help me understand, a lot of what we are talking about today is fentanyl which can kill an extraordinarily small amounts.ao you do not have to have
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truckloads coming across in order to do immense damage. and, so, let me just ask a question of whoever's able to help orient me, why is it if you have six, 700,000, 750,000, why is there not immense risk of fentanyl entering the country. maybe mr. florez? >> congressman, thank you for the question. in regards to fentanyl coming into the country at our ports of entry, it's where we see a significant volume. >> thank you for that. i think i got that before i even sat down. the question that i am asking is another one which is, that implies, because you say comes through the ports of entry, it would imply that allowing
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750,000 come across the border without interdicting them is not really a risk for illicit drug purposes because how could there be any harm. am i wrong when i say my understanding is very small amounts of fentanyl can kill millions, hundreds of thousands of people. why wouldn't the use of mules coming across of places likela points of entry and evading border patrols, you know that we have lots, why is that not a material risk of the entry of illegal drugs? >> i will not say that there is no risk. there is risk and it's just an unknown.n. >> i likely have been given the understanding that with respect to fentanyl, four grains out of
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a salt shaker and that can kill a person. is that true? whether that's precisely the right number or not, minusculend amount like that can cause death to a human. is that right? >> yes. what may be in a sugar packet that you put in your coffee, that can kill many humans. correct? >> depending on what the purity is, yes. chemical composition. >> why isn't the introduction of fentanyl in substantial quantities in this country, why isn't that a terrorism risk? isn't it a chemical weapon? >> in regards to why isn't it a terrorist threat, i would not ba the correct person to answer that. >> is there a reason why it's not considered terrorism?
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let me ask this question. you have heard of anthrax and ricin, poisons that transmitted to congress or something, it could kill tons of people. how is fentanyl less dangerous than anthrax or ricin? does anybody know? >> well, let me just say in the 53 seconds and i've got that remain, if i understand the thrust of this hearing is to suggest that the biden administration's catastrophic relinquishment of control, the border, is not jeopardizing america with a flood of drugs because drugs are interdicted at the point of entry and are not otherwise coming across, that is lunacy. when you have a huge number
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because you overloaded the process, there is very good prospect that you will see that large quantities of drugs come in and i see no way it's different than a risk of a terrorist, and other type of dangerous chemical. mr. higgins, i'm sorry, i did not save any time to yield to you. >> thank you, gentlemen. i like to submit for the record an article, a media article. regarding the border. we are going to lose. it is unsustainable. thank you and the gentleman time has expired. i want to thank the witnesses. gentlemen, for your valuable testimony and the members for their questions. i would be interested in continuing the conversation with you and your teams as to how we can prevent and focus on then
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solutions. i thank you, mr. florez, for offering some of the things that congress can do to be helpful. i will reach out after the hearing to continue the conversation so that we can get to solutions. members may have additional questions for the witnesses. we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing. the committee record remains open for 10 business days. without objection, the subcommittee stands adjourned.
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