SEN. GRASSLEY: When it comes to drug abuse, U.S. seems to be losing

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I come with a heavy heart to deliver this floor speech today.

 

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When it comes to fighting drug abuse, the United States seems to be losing. Over 100,000 Americans have died from drug overdose deaths in the last year alone.

 

These casualties could’ve been prevented by better drug prevention, treatment and intervention. But the brunt of this epidemic is due to drug trafficking organizations.

 

They fuel the flames of drug abuse, often using violence and causing devastating loss of life.

 

Drug traffickers lace street drugs with fentanyl, making deadly drugs even more lethal.

 

And they’re not slowing down. In June of this year alone, Customs and Border Patrol agents seized over 1,000 pounds of fentanyl. This could kill two-thirds of the United States.

 

The boots-on-the-ground agents seize these drugs before they reach us.

 

But what they find is a fraction of what exists.

 

In my home state of Iowa, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized more lethal doses of fentanyl in 2020 than there are people within the state. This means that DEA seized enough fentanyl to kill everyone in Iowa.

 

Our law enforcement officers are critical in the fight against illicit drugs. In the last year or two, law enforcement has been subjected to terrible abuse.

 

But these brave men and women don’t just do great things. They also do good—good for our country and good for the people.

 

The brave members of state and local law enforcement, like police, sheriffs and correctional officers, as well as our federal officers, deserve our honor and respect.

 

They put their lives on the line to ensure we’re safe. And when tragedy strikes, we feel the loss of our fiercest defenders.

 

In fact, according to the FBI, the rate of officers killed in the line of duty is up. As of last month, 59 members of law enforcement were killed in 2021. At this point in 2020, the number was 39. And that was still an uptick from years prior.

 

This trend is a grim reminder of the courage and valor each law enforcement officer has when they go to work.

 

DEA Agent Mike Garbo was one of our most recent casualties in the fight against the illicit drug trade.

 

He was conducting a routine check on an Amtrak train in Arizona when two drug traffickers ambushed him and his fellow DEA agent with gunfire.

 

Agent Garbo was killed.

 

Agent Garbo was committed to a career in public service and law enforcement. He served as a police officer in Nashville for nearly 12 years before joining the DEA.

 

He served the DEA honorably for more than 16 years, combatting drug traffickers all over the globe, from our southwest border to Afghanistan.

 

This tragedy reminds us in Washington that our work to stop the flow of illicit drugs and combat drug-related crime isn’t over.

 

I support being tough on deadly drugs, like fentanyl substances, by pushing for permanently scheduling all fentanyl analogues.

 

And I’m leading bipartisan efforts to proactively control synthetic analogues and address the heightened threats of methamphetamine.

 

Being proactive in the fight against illicit deadly drugs is critical for multiple reasons.

 

First, we want to make it harder for drug traffickers to bring drugs into our nation and to fuel the addiction crisis.

 

But we can’t let drug traffickers feel emboldened in lawlessness and kill law enforcement, like Mike Garbo.

 

It’s time for us to stop sharing stories about tragedies and instead, rewrite the story of our future as a nation.

 

I urge my colleagues to act for the betterment of all Americans and join me in the fight against the illicit drug trade.

 

Most importantly, I thank Agent Garbo and his family for putting his life on the line to protect his fellow countrymen. His sacrifice is sadly much too common, but it doesn’t make it any less powerful and tragic. We’ll continue to honor this man, and those who follow in his footsteps as we fight the spread of illicit deadly drugs.

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