(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that 80 percent or more of the fentanyl transported illegally into the United States across the southern border “is actually coming from American citizens crossing at ports of entry.”
“Tell me how we strike a relationship with Mexico to actively cooperate in the flow of individuals that are coming toward the United States while at the same time deal with the reality that they are failing miserably when it comes to the export of deadly narcotics to our country,” Durbin asked DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.
MAYORKAS: Mr. Chairman, you and ranking member Graham accurately describe the cartels as vicious, ruthless organizations that peddle in the death of individuals including tens of thousands of Americans.
We in the Department of Homeland Security are taking it to the cartels and the smuggling organizations with which they work in unprecedented fashion, and you noted as did I, in Operation Blue Lotus, the most recent surge of personnel and other resources in intelligence to take it to those cartels. We’re seizing more fentanyl at our ports of entry than ever before.
We in the Department of Homeland Security through Homeland Security Investigations – the criminal investigative arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – are working with our Mexican counterparts on an increasing level.
We have transnational criminal investigative units that have indeed disrupted laboratories that manufacture fentanyl, that have helped interdict the flow of fentanyl in Mexico that have in fact cut off financial streams is very difficult to cooperate more closely with our Mexican counterpart, and we’re doing so in an all of administration effort – not just the Department of Homeland Security, not just the Department of Justice of which the DEA is a part, but across the entire administration.
DURBIN: So let me ask you about the effort we’re making. A lot of publicity has come out with the notion that people seeking asylum or refugee status are really transporting fentanyl into the United States. The chart, which I demonstrated earlier suggests that 80 percent or more is actually coming from American citizens crossing at ports of entry.
If we eliminated every applicant for asylum or refugee status, we would still have a tremendous flow of deadly narcotics coming in across the border. Is it impossible for us in this day and age to stop this flow by ordinary legal Americans through our ports of entry of narcotics?
MAYORKAS: Mr. Chairman, we are working intensely to devote additional resources to the ports of entry on the land of our southern border. That is where more than 90 percent of the fentanyl is transported through passenger vehicles, through trucks by pedestrians that are lawfully coming into the United States through the ports of entry. We are surging resources to the ports of entry to battle that.
We are seeking more resources in our fiscal year 2024 budget for precisely that purpose to add personnel, to add non-intrusive inspection technology, to allow our forward operating labs to detect the substance at the point of interdiction so we can bring our investigative prosecutive capabilities right there and develop the force that we need to.
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