WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Virginia & National Law Enforcement Groups Back Spanberger’s Bipartisan Bill to Target Online Sales of Illicit Drugs Laced with Fentanyl

The Congresswoman’s Legislation Would Investigate, Help Disrupt Online Fentanyl Sales & Analyze the Best Methods for Law Enforcement Officers to Crack Down on Traffickers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following Tuesday’s introduction of U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan bill to help address the online sale of counterfeit pills and illicit drugs laced with fentanyl, several national law enforcement organizations have now backed her legislation.

Spanberger’s Targeting Online Sales of Fentanyl Act would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the methods used to enable the online sale of fentanyl and assess efforts by federal law enforcement and online providers to combat the practice. The bill is companion legislation to a U.S. Senate bill led by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The bipartisan bill — which Spanberger introduced alongside Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02), Madeleine Dean (D-PA-04), and Wesley Hunt (R-TX-38) — is now endorsed by the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and multiple national law enforcement organizations, including the National Sheriffs’ Association and National Association of Police Organizations.

“The Virginia Sheriffs’ Association endorses this legislation attacking the fentanyl crisis. Deaths related to this epidemic are unacceptable and are occurring at an alarming rate,” said John W. Jones,Executive Director, Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. “The sheriffs support the efforts of Rep. Spanberger and appreciate her approach to produce a bipartisan effort.”

“Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger’s bill is a crucial step in combatting online sales of illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Sheriff Jim Skinner, Chair, Government Affairs Committee, National Sheriffs’ Association. “By directing the Government Accountability Office to study multiple facets of this problem, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Senator Cory Booker, who filed the Senate companion, are improving the federal response to the opioid epidemic. The National Sheriffs’ Association supports these bills and thanks these legislators for proactively looking for solutions.”

“The spread of fentanyl in our communities is devastating. It is being mixed with already deadly illicit drugs, hidden in counterfeit drugs, and being peddled at alarmingly high rates to our youth through social media,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations. “The data that will be produced due to the Targeting Online Sales of Fentanyl Act will ensure the right resources and tools are being provided to law enforcement, government entities and private sector organizations to combat and deter sales of fentanyl on social media. With 77 percent of teen overdose deaths in 2021 linked to fentanyl, the time to act to protect our children is now. NAPO supports this important bill and thanks Representatives Spanberger, Hunt, Dean, and Crenshaw for their advocacy and leadership.”

BACKGROUND

In 2022, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized more than 58 million fake pills containing fentanyl and 13,000 pounds of fentanyl powder — nearly 400 million deadly doses of fentanyl. The DEA has also reported that illicit drugs are increasingly being sold and distributed on social media platforms — with experts detecting approximately 10,000 new drug-related accounts each month. During just a two-month period in 2021, the DEA identified 76 cases where traffickers advertised drugs on social media. Additionally, 95 percent of websites selling prescription drugs are doing so illegally, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

The Targeting Online Sales of Fentanyl Act would require the GAO to provide a report within one year outlining the business models and techniques employed by online fentanyl traffickers; utilization of social media platforms in facilitating fentanyl transactions involving youth; scope and effectiveness of federal initiatives aimed at countering online fentanyl sales, including intergovernmental and interagency collaborations; enforcement mechanisms and processes employed by online providers to detect and report transactions; and an analysis of the outcomes of referrals to law enforcement agencies regarding online fentanyl sales, along with areas requiring improvement.

Click here for the full bill text.

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