WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The White House announced plans Tuesday to expand efforts to disrupt illicit financial activities by drug traffickers involved in the fentanyl trade by increasing the use of sanctions.
The White House said the “strengthened approach” builds on President Joe Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy, aiming to target production, sale and trafficking by not only strengthening the response at the border but also building a global alliance to fight the spread of the deadly opioid.
The plan calls for improved tracking of equipment like pill-pressing machines, increased seizures of cash at the southwest border, more cooperation with carriers handling international goods and shipments and more accountability measures and financial sanctions targeting drug traffickers’ access to the U.S. financial system.
This development comes as the Biden administration continues to face pressure to do more to crack down on cartels. U.S. lawmakers have called for the Biden administration to ratchet up pressure on Mexico to crack down on fentanyl trafficking.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched Operation Blue Lotus to seize fentanyl along the border. In its first week, the agency said agents stopped over 900 pounds of the drug from coming into the U.S.
The development also comes as members of Mexico’s security cabinet will be in the United States this week to meet with U.S. officials about fentanyl trafficking.
Moving forward, if more isn’t done, some Republicans have even called for the U.S. military to get involved and bomb Mexican cartels in their labs inside Mexico.
“I want to work with you to shut down these labs and the first problem that we’ve got to come to grips with is that the labs operate in Mexico and you’re doing nothing about it,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “They get the precursor drugs from China, and if you don’t change your policies we’re going to have to take matters into our own hands.”
As part of this new plan from Biden, his team also called on Congress to permanently designate all illicitly produced fentanyl substances as “Schedule I” substances, meaning they have high abuse risk and no accepted medical use.
Biden’s administration also said it plans to launch a national campaign aimed at educating children and teens about the dangers of fentanyl.
Overdoses involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, killed more than 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl killed over 100,000 people in the U.S. last year, according to the CDC.