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Garland Cites 'Enormous Urgency' To Focus On Fentanyl Crisis

Senators focused on deaths from fentanyl and violent crime as Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first time in more than a year. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), top Republican on the committee, used his opening remarks to highlight fentanyl and said lawmakers should recommit to tackling the issue, Roll Call reports. “I hope, by this hearing, we will have a recommitment to convince the American people that we're going to keep you safe,” Graham said. “That we're going to have policies to deal with the poisoning of America from fentanyl.” Overall, Graham said, crime is not being taken so seriously as it should. “On many fronts, law and order has broken down here at home and the world is in chaos,” Graham said. Judiciary Chair Richard Durbin (D-IL) pointed to the toll of gun violence and mass shootings more than 6,800 shooting deaths and 94 mass shootings so far in 2023. He mentioned that while statistics show a leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45 is drug overdose, the top cause of death for children under 18 is gun violence.

Garland said the Justice Department is working with state and local partners to “combat the rise in violent crime that began in 2020.” He said DOJ is working to seize illegal drugs and illegal guns. “For example, last year [the Drug Enforcement Administration] and its partners seized enough fentanyl-laced pills and powder to kill every single American,” Garland said. He described fentanyl as “a horrible epidemic, but it’s an epidemic that’s been unleashed on purpose” by cartels. In response to a question from Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn Garland said the DOJ is focusing on fentanyl with “enormous urgency,” and he has traveled to Mexico and spoken with Mexican legal authorities to tackle the problem. “We have our DEA working to prevent transfer of precursors into Mexico, to capture the labs, to extradite the cartel leaders, to arrest them in the United States,” Garland said. Some Republicans have blamed the Biden administration’s migration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border for the rise in fatal fentanyl poisoning cases in the U.S., though data shows the great majority of fentanyl is seized at ports of entry and vehicle checkpoints.


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