CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – A recent five-day trip to the U.S.-Mexico border has made Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire a firsthand witness to how many more tools are needed to combat the flow of illicit drugs and fight the opioid crisis.
Hassan visited the border last week to evaluate efforts to stop narcotics-trafficking. She was briefed by Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Hassan directed her attention to how Congress can better support them in detecting, intercepting and halting the trafficking of drugs, showing special interest in fentanyl.
“With 76 percent of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2017 involving fentanyl, we must do more to disrupt the trafficking of this lethal drug, including smuggling by Mexican cartels,” Hassan said.
In a call with reporters Monday, Hassan said that some resources needed are more border control personnel, refined technology and better roads and upgraded facilities. She suggested increasing funding for personnel recruitment and improving technology to combat the sophisticated and evolving Mexican drug cartels. She said that physical barriers may be appropriate in certain situations, but other tools come before that in terms of improving border security.
Hassan also met with Mexican officials to build upon existing partnerships. They discussed helping the Mexican government expand its federal police force by training new officers to combat the drug cartels.
Hassan co-sponsored two bills this year that strengthen support for law enforcement officials, including the STOP Act that helps stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl from being shipped through the mail to drug traffickers in the U.S.
“I’m impressed by the border control’s commitment to keeping our country safe,” Hassan said. “Their ongoing work to make sure that they are being as creative as they can be to fight these drug cartels is remarkable.”