Photo Courtesy of Sen. Schumer’s Office
“JFK’s facility needs continuous upgrades to keep pace with fast-changing methods by traffickers,” Sen. Schumer said.
By Michael v. Cusenza
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer this week promoted his plan to beef-up what he calls “New York’s fentanyl firewall”: John F. Kennedy International Airport—and the local post offices it supplies.
Specifically, the Empire State’s senior senator wants New York to receive at least 30 percent of a $16 million dollar fund just-proposed by the administration to enhance opioid detection equipment and safeguards across the country.
In February, Schumer unveiled a first-ever fentanyl sanctions bill to hold the Chinese government accountable for “frustrating inaction” on the trafficking of the illicit synthetic opioid pain reliever to the United States.
According to Schumer, the Fentanyl Sanctions Act would give law enforcement and the intelligence community more tools to combat the opioid epidemic, empower the President to call-out foreign traffickers and use economic sanctions, similar to the kinds used to respond to Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs, to cripple foreign labs and apply economic pressure to countries turning a blind eye to fentanyl drug production and trafficking.
On Sunday, while noting that the Fentanyl Sanctions Act now has “strong bipartisan support,” Schumer announced he will add a New York-specific request to his national plan: critical detection and infrastructure upgrades at JFK’s international mail processing facility, the largest in the nation.
Schumer disclosed his intention to push for new and needed funds at JFK’s mail processing facility of “at least $5 million dollars.” Schumer explained the President’s just-proposed budget sets aside $16 million nationally for these kinds of upgrades and that New York needs at least 30 percent of those funds to combat China’s fentanyl shipping system.
“As the biggest International mail processing facility in the Nation, JFK should be New York’s fentanyl firewall and filter out illicit fentanyl and other opioids at our local post offices. We need to both beef it up and make sure it has the real-time tools to meet everyday demands,” the senator said. “We know China’s opioid assembly line to New York and Long Island starts at JFK, but it can end there, too, and that is what tough sanctions accompanied by new fed funds can help us deliver: a wrench to China’s opioid supply chain.
“JFK’s facility needs continuous upgrades to keep pace with fast-changing methods by traffickers,” Schumer added. “We need more canines, staff, new infrastructure to the processing facility, and state-of-the-art detection equipment.”
Schumer’s fentanyl sanctions legislation would:
• Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S., and financial institutions that assist such entities.
• Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Defense, and State, to combat the foreign trafficking of opioids.
• Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign opioid traffickers.
• Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.