U.S Rep. Barry Moore (AL-2) has put his name on a bill that would classify fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD). The legislation was introduced on Monday by U.S Rep. Lauren Boebert. (R-CO) and seeks to address the issue of the importation of the drug from Mexico.
The bill, simply called the Fentanyl is a WMD Act, would compel the assistant secretary for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) office of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to treat fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
The CWMD was established in 2002 but was only fully authorized by President Donald Trump in 2018. The CWMD works across multiple law enforcement partners globally to prevent WMD attacks within the borders of the United States.
The CWMD does not give a list of its law enforcement partners, but all of them could theoretically be deployed to fight the import of fentanyl should Boebert’s bill be passed.
Moore spoke before the U.S House of Representatives on Tuesday, decrying President Joe Biden’s treatment of the southern border, which he believes has accelerated the opioid pandemic.
“The direct cause of so many American deaths from fentanyl is the Biden administration’s surrender at our southern border,” Moore said. “In 2021 alone, more than 11,000 pounds of fentanyl was seized at our border. So, just imagine how much fentanyl got across the border and into our communities.
“Fentanyl is a drug so deadly poisonous that the Russian military has reportedly weaponized it. The countless families who have lost loved ones to fentanyl deserve better than what the Biden administration has given them.”
The weaponized fentanyl described by Moore is in reference to a hostage situation in a Russian theater in 2002. Chechen rebels took over 800 people hostage at a Moscow theatre for 57 hours on Oct. 23, 2002. Russian authorities used a fentanyl derivative in aerosol form in an attempt to incapacitate the rebels. The mysterious gas worked but also killed more than 120 hostages
There is no available evidence that the Russian government has used the gas since then, including their current invasion of Ukraine.
In March, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) addressed previous attempts from the Trump administration to designate fentanyl as a WMD, claiming that the designation was unnecessary to address the issue. They also stated that the Homeland Security Act of 2002 “lacks a provision for classifying fentanyl as a WMD.”
“A statutory designation of fentanyl as a WMD does not appear necessary for additional executive branch action to address fentanyl as an illicit drug or chemical weapon, Congress may consider developing legislation to improve upon perceived shortcomings in the U.S. government’s approach to addressing fentanyl,” a CRS report read.
“We can’t turn the other way as Mexican drug cartels kill thousands of young Americans. We must take the fentanyl threat seriously, and we must secure our border,” Moore concluded.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), opioid overdoses have increased significantly year over year. The CDC claims that opioid overdoses went from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021.
In 2021, fentanyl accounted for 57% of all overdose deaths, higher than all other drugs combined.
Fentanyl is now considered the number-one killer of people aged 18 to 49, according to research done by Families Against Fentanyl.
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