Tillis, Budd demand answers to growing fentanyl crisis in NC

Source: Instagram of Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC https://www.instagram.com/senthomtillis/

Listen to this story (5 minutes)

  • North Carolina's senators say broken border policies are to blame for driving drug cartels to engulf the country with drugs.

Republican North Carolina U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Ted Budd are looking for answers about the level of fentanyl and other drugs coming into the country and communities across North Carolina. In a letter sent Thursday to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the senators listed key questions for Biden administration officials and want answers within a month.

“In the past nine years, over 13,000 North Carolinians have died from fentanyl overdoses,” the letter states. “The overdoses are being driven by various factors, including the open border, drug cartels using social media apps to sell drugs, and the Chinese Communist Party’s failure to stop fentanyl precursors from being shipped to drug cartels.”

Source: U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, X (formerly Twitter) page.

The pair cites an Aug. 31 Axios Raleigh report that the Raleigh Police Department (RPD) alone seized over 17 kilograms of fentanyl in 2023, enough to kill 8.5 million people, which is 85% of North Carolina’s population. Also, in July, the Gaston County Police seized 10,000 fentanyl pills with a street value of $330,000, which weighed approximately 1 kilogram.

They say broken border policies are to blame for driving drug cartels to engulf the country with drugs. Citing statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Security, during Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), over 25,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the southern border alone, and does not include the fentanyl that evaded detection and made it into communities across North Carolina and the nation.

In addition, Tillis and Budd say North Carolina is also seeing the veterinary sedative Xylazine, better known by the street name “Tranq”, impact the state. The sedative has been found to be mixed with fentanyl or common opioids, leading to overdoses and, in some cases, the repetitive use of Xylazine is causing skin ulcers. According to the UNC Street Drug Lab, Trang has been detected in over 20 North Carolina counties. 

“Our nation is being poisoned by fentanyl and other deadly narcotics that are pouring in from our open border,” they said. “Families from all demographics are being impacted and losing loved ones daily. As of April 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the United States had over 106,000 overdose deaths, which included fentanyl-related deaths during a 12-month period.”

Their questions include:

  • How are DHS and DEA working with our local and state law enforcement to track and dismantle drug networks? What federal resources are needed to address the fentanyl crisis in North Carolina?
  • What steps have DHS and DEA taken to counter social media recruitment by drug cartels?
  • Have DHS and DEA worked with social media platforms to stop the sale of fentanyl and illicit narcotics?
  • What strategic plan does DHS have in place to stop drug cartels from smuggling drugs across the southern border? What strategic plan does DEA have in place to address the drugs flowing into the U.S. interior?
  • What public outreach has been done to warn Americans about new emerging drug threats like Xylazine (Tranq)?
  • How are DHS and DEA recording the seizures when it pertains to Trang? Are they being tallied as fentanyl, opioid, or marked as a separate substance?
  • Have DHS and DEA identified who is supplying drug cartels with the Xylazine? If so, what actions have been taken?
  • What action have DHS and DEA taken to halt China’s fentanyl precursor chemicals from being shipped to drug cartels like the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa Cartels?
  • What are the latest efforts that DEA and DHS have taken to dismantle the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa Cartel?

Tillis and Budd asked the agencies to respond by Nov. 24 to questions on what steps they are taking to stop the fentanyl crisis.