Shaheen calls for legislation to prevent sales through social media
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. —
A hearing in Washington, D.C., on drug trafficking Wednesday focused on how deadly drugs are finding their way into the country.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, told the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration that in the past two weeks in Manchester, 10 people have died of overdoses, and fentanyl was likely involved in most.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said most illicit drugs come in through airports or land ports along the southern border.
"Fentanyl is so addictive the cartel is using it to drive addiction," she said.
Chemical compounds needed to make the drugs are traveling from China to Mexico. From Mexico, they're trafficked through personal or commercial vehicles and airports into the United States, officials said.
Last year, the DEA seized 57 million counterfeit pills and more than 13,000 pounds of fentanyl.
Senators said more help is needed from the Mexican and Chinese governments to stop the flow. Officials said one thing that could help is scanners at the ports.
"When we see increased fentanyl, it's because we are applying technology, and I want to see every port have that technology and scan every vehicle that we can coming in," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The drugs are often being sold on social media, with traffickers marketing the drugs as fake prescription pills, officials said.
"We view social media right now as a superhighway of drugs," Milgram said.
Milgram said social media companies must be transparent and held accountable. Shaheen agreed, saying Congress should look at legislation for the apps where the sales are taking place.
"We need to hold those sites accountable," she said. "Require they pull down those ads. If there is trafficking that's going on the sites, that they are held accountable for that."
Milgram and Shaheen also stressed the importance of public education and making sure people know how dangerous the drugs can be.