WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Tom Malinowski, representing Springfield in the 7th District of New Jersey joined more than sixty members of Congress and called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to prioritize policies that will help tackle the opioid epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic is devastating communities all over New Jersey and the 7th District has not been spared the pain,” said Malinowski. “With 3,000 deaths statewide last year Congress must prioritize more resources for treatment and recovery, as well as creative policy solutions tailored to stopping opioid abuse before it starts.”

Over 3,000 people died of overdoses in New Jersey in 2018, and in the first half of 2018 alone nearly 400 people died from opioid abuse in the six counties that make up the 7th Congressional District.

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A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a dramatic increase in deaths nationally due to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and increases in overdose deaths in many of the hardest hit states.

According Customs and Border Patrol, Interdicting illicit drugs, particularly synthetic opioids, is both challenging and complex. The majority of U.S. trafficked illicit fentanyl is produced in other countries such as China, and is principally smuggled through points of entry along the Southern land border, international mail facilities or via express consignment carrier facilities

In the land border environment, the CBP uses the same drug-interdiction methodology to seize fentanyl arriving from Mexico as it uses to detect other illicit drugs. However, the detection of fentanyl remains challenging due to limited field testing capabilities and the myriad of fentanyl analogues on the market.

Just as the illicit drug manufacturers seek to outpace the law with new drug analogues, new drug analogues can come and go faster than the canine training needed to detect these emerging drugs. Currently, all suspect substances must be sent to CBP’s Laboratories and Scientific Services Directorate for identification.

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