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Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) is requesting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to share updated data and estimates on fentanyl overdose deaths.
The House Homeland Security Committee chairman wrote a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on March 1 asking for the most recent statistics on fentanyl and fentanyl-related overdose deaths from 2022.
“The latest provisional count provided by the CDC is from a 12-month period ending in September 2022,” Green wrote in the letter. “It has now been five months since any new data has been published.”
The lack of timely data, Green wrote, hinders the ability of Congress to gain a clear understanding of the drug epidemic and how it is evolving.
Drug overdose deaths increased significantly in 2020, rising from an estimated 72,151 deaths in 2019 to roughly 107,622 in 2021, according to the CDC.
“In just a few short years, we’ve seen a staggering surge in drug overdose deaths, driven by fentanyl and other opioids that are flooding into our communities,” Green said.
“Our nation is in crises,” Green said, “and the CDC needs to provide timely data to give us a clear understanding of how this drug epidemic is evolving.”
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram said drug traffickers are increasingly mixing fentanyl with other types of drugs in an effort to drive addiction and attract repeat buyers.
“Fentanyl is everywhere,” Milgram said. “From large metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is safe from this poison.”
Green believes the influx of fentanyl it ties to the lack of security and enforcement on America’s southern border.
“Ruthless cartels smuggle massive amounts of lethal fentanyl across our southern border every day,” Green said.
America’s border patrol officers, Green wrote, are overwhelmed with the volume of encounters with illegal immigrants.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 1.5 million fentanyl pills in one week in Decemberat the Nogales port of entry in Arizona. at the Otay Mesa port of entry in California, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized 17,584 pounds of methamphetamine and 389 pounds of fentanyl from a trailer in October.
“Since October, CBP has seized over 8,600 pounds of fentanyl—enough to kill the entire U.S. population several times over,” Green wrote.
In February, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also tied the lack of border control to increased fentanyl deaths.
“Our lack of border security undoubtedly contributed to Florida’s roughly 3,000 fentanyl-related deaths in 2021 alone,” Rubio wrote in a press release.
Rubio called on the Biden Administration to address the issue.
“I will continue to demand that President Biden and the comfortable bureaucrats staffing his administration address the border, crack down on Chinese drug producers, and treat addiction like the lethal problem it is,” Rubio wrote.