WASHINGTON, DC — Bipartisan legislation that would hold accountable all Chinese government officials and persons involved in fentanyl production and trafficking into the United States has been introduced by Reps. Chris Smith (R-4th District) and Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.).

The measure calls for the creation of a joint effort by the State and Treasury Departments to identify these individuals in order to levy sanctions, which could including freezing their assets and banning them from entering the United States — similar to those under the Global Magnitsky Act involving human rights offenders. Smith, who helped shepherd that act into law several years ago, is ranking member of the House global human rights subcommittee.

“Chinese-made fentanyl is ending up on our streets and the human cost is real — over 29,000 overdose deaths in 2017 were fentanyl-related,” said Smith, who chaired a subcommittee hearing in September on the threat of Chinese-produced fentanyl. “China is not doing enough to prevent its production and export to the U.S.  My legislation sets up mechanisms by which the U.S. can enforce sanctions against Chinese officials and anyone there involved in this drug trade.”

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During that subcommittee hearing on identifying and countering the threat of Chinese-produced fentanyl imported into the country, officials from the State Department and Drug Enforcement Agency testified, along with a panel of private witnesses which included Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato — from Smith’s district.

“What my hearing found, through the witness testimony, was that China was not doing enough to end this drug trade,”  said Smith, whose district represents Belmar and Lake Como, “Although President Xi Jinping promised to President Trump at the G-20 Summit to crack down on the production of fentanyl, we have seen little tangible progress. We cannot allow this matter to become another Chinese empty promise — anyone involved in the production and trafficking of fentanyl must be held accountable.”

The bill has been referred to House foreign affairs committee and judiciary committee.

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is the official electronic newspaper of both municipalities. As a locally owned news organization, TAPinto through its advertisers is able to publish online, objective news 24/7 at no charge. Sign up for its free daily e-News, and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

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