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tv   Homeland Security Officials Testify on Fentanyl Opioid Epidemic  CSPAN  May 21, 2022 1:08am-2:19am EDT

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security, will com spent the committee border security the chair is authorized to declare a recess to do look at the home and securities efforts. once-in-a-lifetime virus of the economic slowdown exacerbating public health crisis including the nation struggle with drug addiction and overdosem death. data from the center for disease control prevention suggest overdoses have increased sharply since the pandemic began. 107,000 overdose deaths breaking all previous yearly records.
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homicide or motor vehicles. canceling the drug crisis is the most pressing national security law enforcement in public health challenges and do more to protect american life. i'm grateful and then to have a new national gun control strategy focused on the actions needed to reduce overdose and save lives. that includes disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking operations in which the witnesses play a key role. the rise in the misuse of fennel another synthetic opioids are in the approval of the prescription opioid painkiller oxycontin in 1995 when it was marketed as a nonaddictive pain management medication.
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opioid dependence had become increased demand which have transnational criminal organizations have exploited. almost all synthetic opioids are manufactured outside of the united states. the smuggling of these drugs is an issue and democrats are focused on tackling. shipping directly to the u united states and small high-purity quantities also shipped to mexico and smuggled across the border however production and distribution has increasingly shifted too mexico. it has never been more important to enhance cooperation of mexican authorities like carolyn and fennel across the board. this is exactly with the biden administration is doing. would also understands the
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overwhelming majority more than 90 percent are smuggled through legal ports of entry. meant toig illustrate this and then that pie chart 91.3 percent to the ports of entry. rather than wasting resources to build a wall or tear families apart the biden administration has directed resources to ports of entry to interdict opioid shipments where they are arriving. also focusing attention to dismantle the transnational criminal organization that smuggled the drugs intoli our communities. despite the talkingco points. i would like to be clear.
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according to cbp data. those drugs being seized at the border and the number of migrant encounters. for example, we saw seizures of fertile reach levels of june 2020. at the time migration was unnaturally suppressed throughout central america. and high levels of opioid drugs at the points of entry with high or low migration. dhs is in a unique position to respond to the crisis both with the investigative arm. with radiation technology with
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cargo into the united states. this technology is critical i support the department goal. however much more work needs to be done currently 2 percent of private vehicles and 15 percent of commercial vehicles are screened for narcotics at the southwest border. with the cbp use between opioids and points of entry. to investigate transnational, investigations combating illicit drugs is no easy task. and then had a whole society
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approach and the department of homeland security has hadfo an important role we must identify the vulnerabilities especially as traffickers continue to adapt their methods today's hearing will provide us an opportunity to learn more about the department's effort to combat the opioid epidemic. i look forward to a frank conversation of how congress can take action to further protect our communities and that the chair recognizes the ranking member gentleman from louisiana and those law enforcement professionals that are here today are like to communicate clearly and those that are televised and then to
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clarify a few things. with the drug epidemic races the synthetic opioids 82100 times strongerro than morphine according to the dea is 2 milligrams by ingestion and fentanyl is now a leading cause of death of americans 18 to 45 years old customs and border control has season of fentanyl and just last year to killed two.4 billion people that's over seven times the population of the united states of america.
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i america is paying attention to what i'm sharing here today. it should come as no shock a reasonable assessment of what happens at the southern border every american will look at that record numbers of illegal crossings driven by cartels for trafficking drugs and human beings it is reasonable and an easy connection as the opioid crisis and the desk and 100,000 americans and never see numbers like this before no matter where you are and law enforcement if you are an
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elder of your community youngsters from your area that you love and care for that they are taking pills from the dealers the equipment they build online and add of raw materials and look at the southern border and then to use percentages across the aisle and entertaining but no more. because they talk about percentages of seizures and obviously at ports of entry for large ships or trucks or professional law enforcement with large shipments and
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quantities of drugs based upon investigative work and data from confidential informants. on the highway and in the belly of the ship or the cargo of the truck. you don't stumble across that. and then you intercept it when it comes into your jurisdictional authority if that confidential informant was right you have a being drug seizure. you know what i'm saying is true. so of course you can intercept the long volume as compared into a backpack. and even be disingenuous the
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young men that are crossing the border and then official numbers are 400,000 last year. and then doug got away is because they got away. that requires interaction with all enforcement professionalsfe at the border you don't do that with a backpack of drugs. and i'm asking genuine on —- america to be genuine with thise conversation. and to restore american sovereignty at the southern border and with that overdose we are experiencing right now.
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and not allowed to be pulled into a false narratives that don't pay no attention to the man behindth the curtain. move along. two.4million illegal crossings last year and 500,000 and got away. a lot of them are carrying backpacks with drugs. and then to produce thousands and thousands of pills and oxycontin. and those parties we are teenagers are going. and then to engage honestly. and madame chair i yield.
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>> laid out by the attribute 2021 and without objection those should be permitted to sit and question and not seeing the chairman ofhe the full committee we will move on. >> and to welcome the panel of witnesses the executive director of the transnational organized crime center at dhs office of intelligence and analysis the executive assistant commissioner of the office of field operation the assistant director for encountering transnational organized crime homeland security investigation and
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without objection witnesses statements will be inserted into the record and we will now ask each witness to summarize the statement for five minutes. >> ranking member higgins and distinguish members of the subcommittee of the subcommittee facility and i'm honored to represent the dedicated professionals who work to keep the homeland safe and secure and resilient. first i like to provide information of the illicit fentanyl supply chain. it's cheaper, faster and more resilient than plant -based illicit drugs such as heroin. mexico -based drug trafficking organizations mainly have new
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generation cartels of leading manufacturers of smugglers and then to a lesser extent and those that fall f outside of assisting drug controls. and those that have legitimate use after obtaining a precursor that involves three stages laboratory synthesis and then staging for a cross-border smuggling. and then too synthesize an operation in mexico to produce 150,000 and then to stations —- houses and then to be
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personally owned and commercial vehicles to smuggle fentanyl into the us but once in the country the affiliates distribute synthetic drugs a large distribution from los angeles, chicago atlanta and new york. networks are among the first digital native drug networks. in social media so the e-commerce model allows actors to react rapidly to enforcement protection to reach a broader customer base. you see fentanyl and fake prescription pills and laced in hard drugs. drug traffickers disguise
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fentanyl pills to look like prescription such as oxycontin, percocet, vicodin, xx or stimulants like adderall. the adulteration intoen hard drugs into heroin and cocaine is a rise of concern as well. actors are adulterating these drugs to increase potency and addictive properties to grow market demand. since 2018 synthetic drug is the leading driver of most doug andrews drug overdose death. of those00 overdose tests for 12 months endingg november 2021 and then to be 75 percent of overdose deaths.
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and then to work with the dhs and the intelligence communityig with select research and on transnational criminal organizations and with that decision-making and operational planning across dhs federal agencies and state local tribal and territorial partners to combat transnational criminal organizations. the organized crime mission center produces intelligence for maximum utility across law enforcement and the intelligence community. and we striveis to embrace alternative analysis because fentanyl is like any other traditional drug. we assess transnational activity holistically to include other associated fines and to disrupt and then to
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keep the homeland safe with terrace criminal and threat actors. and distinguish members of the subcommittee so that the us customs border protection to combat d and cbp held the annual turmoil last week this year 37 names were added to the monument those officers and agents carrying out the mission and i'm proud to represent brave and dedicated men and women and protect the
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border and the homeland and community but in the border environment to discuss the multilayer enforcement and that of transnational, organizations that is difficult to detect and identify and also to adjust operations and synthetic opioids that can be transported in smaller quantities to circumvent detection and interdiction by law enforcement. and then receiving more than 450 tons of illegal drugsng the majority marijuana but cocaine, and fentanyl and methamphetamine.
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and more than double the weight seized from fy 19. those illicit drugs through the southwest border ports of entry and broaden by privately owned vehicles commercial vehicles and pedestrians. although much less frequently fentanyl and others are also encountered to express consignment most are synthesized in mexico. with that capability. to come back cross-border flow of drugs. along with lawaw enforcement and intelligence and the
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travelers. and with this predictive analysisys to provide national information and with electronic shipping information to provide valuable insight to inbound parcels. and those that have sophisticated detection technology. and then suspected illegal narcoticss to cargo containers and your belongings and privately owned vehicles. cbp canine training program has the largest and most diversein and all those of the
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current on —- iconic canine dreams on —- teams have completed training. the enforcement approach not only focuses on efficient detention but also prioritizes what identification of substance. with that 24/7 reach back center to submit data electronically and with identification all seizure information data is provided to the federal investigative partners and is a collaborative approach and then to dismantle of the network and operation our partners are critical as well
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as state and local and tribal and international to share informationn and collaborate a joint enforcement to identify targets and disrupted illicit drug activity. continuing to prioritize and dedicate a resources with the flow across the border and thank you for the opportunity and look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. >> ranking members andis distinguish members of the house subcommittee and the homeland opioid smuggling. the principal investigative component and has been investigating and dismantling
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criminal organizations with the united states to heal the overdose hsi conducts at every critical location of the nation's physical borders and working criminal organizations are in substantial profit to sell poison to friends and neighbors and family members. and those abroad has a largest investigative international presence within dhs comprised of hundreds of special agents strategically assigned 86 offices in 54 countries. including mexico where the vast majority throughout the
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asia-pacific region where precursor chemicals t originated. tci you foreign vetted law enforcement officials and prosecutors that lead hsi most significant extraterritorial investigation prosecutions. hsi has established tco's around the world disrupting and dismantling the fentanyl precursor which is the element e to stop the flow of illicit drugs. thelolo precursors serve as oxyn the cartels need to manufacture the poison destined for america cities and streets. and those resulting in the seizure of 633,000 kilograms of precursor chemicals.
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many enforcement efforts are led by the b tci you in mexico with no shipments they alsohe targeting the labs mexican cartels operate on the industrial scale interdiction ofof the statement has entered found affect the seizure of almost 20 kilograms. the perfect example is march 221750 kilograms of the fentanyl precursor on the way to mexico. if they reach the hands of the mexican cartel i seven.4 billion doses of fentanyl put into theti hands of americans.
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at the border hsi is responsible to respond to all introductions to start or continue an investigation. the investigation is the best tool for the capabilities with the flow into the united states. the border enforcement security task force represents where the agency's premier tools for turning simple border seizures the primary mission is combat to combat state local federal tribal and international law enforcement resources. currently there are 82 deaths comprising 2000 law enforcement officers and personal representatives. in addition to the best with
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253 offices and all 50 states and us territories dedicating assets with the flow. the illicit drug supply chain feeling the overdose death begins abroad and ends on main street. hsi along with our partners dedicated to using a broad and unique authority to stop illicit drugs thank you for the opportunity to appear befored you and the critical role it plays to attack. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you for your testimony. and to all witnesses and i remind the subcommittee we each have five minutes to question the panel. i now recognize myself for questions.
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i'mm honored to have the opportunity. this is something that has been of concern and more specifically through the actual port of entry with the landmass between ports of entry. thee indication is approximately 194,000 pounds o of fentanyl came in between the ports of entry and this is a fairly accurate assessment. >> thank you for the question. >> let me do this. give me as close to a can as a yes or no. >> as far as no caps narcotics i'm not sure the exact number.
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being responsible for the ports of entry we see high percentage of narcotics we intercept at the ports. >> all rights. assuming i respect those that believe it comes in between ports of entry that examine the numbers. if you assume adjust this amount is from between ports of entry it would take 194,000 people if each carried 1000 pounds. since we know most people cannot carry 1000 pounds and those that are coming in between the ports of entry.
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that would take 776,000 people. probably 125 pounds maybe what some people can carry. it would take 1,562,000 people but this is coming in primarily to the ports of entry. but those that are coming in primarily to the ports of entry?
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if it's a tractor-trailer or the shipment or pedestrians coming in. >> do you believe that 2000 people are bring in 125 pounds of. >> what i do know is the methods used to smuggle across our. >> i believe it. noie disrespect. but yes there is a point to
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that. >> being directed in the ports of entry the seizure is at the port of entry. >> thank you. thank you for your kind answer. so where it comes and it is still a problem. but it is difficult to conceive that many people that them between the ports of entry. >> now t time to turn to my colleagues who all have questions. >> thank you the gentleman yields back.
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i'm running because there is a rollcall vote. and recognizing of the members for questions and to recognize members in order of seniority alternating between the majority and the minority members are reminded to unmute themselves when a on —- recognized for questions thank you madame chair your role what office of intelligence and analysis every law enforcement professional has insight but with the content
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of fentanyl that we are seeing in final usese or pill products or prescription drugs primarily sold on the streets of america. my sources tell me that over the course of the last year the amount of fentanyl thrust into the average pill has increased and that it is so abundant and by now and after two years are heavy crossings at the border but the volume is so heavy in the garage is of the drug dealers are the drug houses across the country, that are processed
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and to get it out into the street and then they make their product a little more powerful and addictive. and to what extent is that true from the intelligence and analysis perspective? >> we have seen over the last couple of years, a slight increase in purity. not a huge increase. >> can you clarify why because if you push too much what would happen?
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>> they so much fentanyl they are giving it away. they are putting into their product that they sell on themi streets and it is coming across the border is much as my colleagues want to point to the ports of entry. that is the criminal capture but the ports of entry those l are reflective of investigations and confidential informants. these are larger shipments of vehicles and vessels and then to identify and intercept the law enforcement investigative perspective front-line enforcement border most men and women are quite capable to apprehend and pursue those ten
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or 15 at a time wearing camouflage covering their sport and in camelback's with water it's an amount we have not seen before and certainly carrying drugs in a backpack it doesn't take a lot to impact the opioid crisis in america it isca making its way into the streets and you cannot measure that because you don't catch those guys because the agents are pulled into processing what are they processing those that are seeking asylum those family units and individuals to have a better lifein in america but those that are seeking interaction with law enforcement.
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>> and there is so much fentanyl made into the street so why a drug dealer and then to make the pills and explain that to america. >> in terms of the copies and then seek to increase if they are lacing here when or pain they would seek to make that more but in terms of with the false prescriptions like xanax and it is hard from my
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standpoint and my colleagues may have better insight but that iss hard determine because of the way it is purchased don't understand that fentanyl someone you they don't even know they are getting it. so that one is a little more difficult to understand but in talking to our analysts, their belief is that what is happening with those prescription drugs.
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>> i time has expired. thank you for your answers. >> was trying to be gracious we went to make sure members get questions and before votes i will now recognize myself for five minutes for questions. want to put up a chart showing the correlation or lack of correlation between migration and opioid seizures and border protection data and it shows the happening between the ports of entry and the blue line that you see is seizures
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at thehe points of entry in vehicle checkpoint you can see the huge disparity in those bars that show at the border if you look at the chart you will see there is no correlation between migration and the opioid seizures. i just want to remind folks the chart we put about the beginning the pie chart is to read ed directly from cbp it's important that people see the visuals to see the truth. thank you for your efforts what you do day in and day out all the a things that congress can do.
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it is a public health crisis and then to reach our community. so what additional resources or technology would help cbp detect at the border? >> our employees are the most vital research on —- despite a global pandemic we can dedicate ourselves to make sure staffing levels were maintained that are appropriate. we bring on specialist from ports of entry for the congressional support and then a despite of collections to maintain staffing levels and
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then to respond to the seeing volume as we get to pre- pandemic levels. it's also an important factor for us and our capabilities and what infrastructure is. so the bipartisan infrastructure laws that pass a three.$4 billion in the end they needed space and then those realistic drugs coming across the border and with the nonintrusive technology but what we can do in looking at pre- primary systems with more efficient rates of things coming across the border in order to help us
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make a better assessment. >> so the next question is the geordie of drugs received coming from documented travelers. do you expect terminating title 42 would result in a significant increase. >> thank you chairwoman. wean believe we have seen some instances but they are still rare. the smuggling organizations are opportunistic and transactional with their
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operations. they are strongly motivated by profits so those that are likely to keep these in the potential revenue for the much higher value drugs. >> they may be able to answer. >> i will be quick. hsi we see the same thing looking at the entire transactional, organization and the key network spots within supply-chain but predominantly we see the drugs but now i will recognize
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representative guest you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madame chairwoman first and then reporting 234,080 immigrants encountered along our border. the largest number ever but did that was such an easy 70000 immigrants. that was an increase of almost 300 percent. a total encounters under this administration taking numbersti that said you have numbers of and then because of the 13
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states maine and new hampshire, hawaii west virginia idaho nebraska new mexico at the current rate you will eclipse decimal states including in mississippi and those seizures along southwest border have continuedue to rise we address that in page two of your testimony. you say that in the physical year. >> thank you. >> over twice the number seized and physical poop and the 5310 pounds of fentanyl. but if you go to say if you measure that by dosage units
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two.6 billion but then to put that on into perspective to see the population is approximately seven.9 billion people. secretary has been here and testifying that the borders closed. but thehe border secure those that i have just broken. do you believe the border is closed and.
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>> thank you for the question. inar regard to field operations our priorities continue to be national and economic security at ports of entry and on —- and we do that every day operating at ports of entry to do that and doing excellent job every single day after dealing with legitimate travel and it on —- and we will continueue to operate as we have been to ensureie our national priorities are takingg care of. >> i don't argue or disagree with you.
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i've never met with officers but community leaders tell me the same thing that section feels like administration has abandoned them and said this is the worst so yes or no answer. i'm not asking the opinion of surgery mayorkas but i'm asking your opinion, do you believe our border is secure and those from field operations. >> i agree you need more resources and manpower. i'm not arguing that but i would like an answer yes or
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no. is the border closed. >> i have been open in regards to be more focused of trade and travel. >> our our border protected. >> and to protect this every single day. >> 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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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 --
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>> 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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the conversation so we can get two solutions. the members of the subcommittee may have additional questions for the witnesses and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing and i remind you the committee member remains open for ten days and the subcommittee stands adjourned
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] walen
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dr. fauci is here. >> dr. rochelle walensky and dr. tony fauci, and i'll turn to both of them in a minute. i want to start off by taking five minutes to talk about where we are in this pandemic, what's going on, the things that are going well, things that are challenges ahead. if we take a step back and

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