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Sen. Ben Ray Lujan backs fentanyl, gun trafficking bill

High-powered firearms and ammo seized as six men were charged with plotting to smuggle assault weapons and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition to one of Mexico's most violent drug cartels in 2022. (Department of Justice)
Bill aims to reduce amoungt of drug and guns going across border

Nine Democratic U.S. Senators, including Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, introduced legislation this week that they hope will reduce the amount of fentanyl that flows over the country's southern border. At the same time, the bill will increase inspections of goods leaving the United States for Mexico in an effort to stop the illegal export of firearms.

The Stop Fentanyl at the Border Act would increase "staffing capacity and technology to detect illicit drugs and other contraband being smuggled through ports of entry along the border," according to a press release from Luján's office. It targets fentanyl that enters the country through legal ports of entry.

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., has introduced legislation this week that they hope will reduce the amount of fentanyl that flows over the country's southern border. Alex Brandon/The Associated Press

“The flow of fentanyl into New Mexico has devastated families and their communities. This is a crisis resulting in thousands of deaths, and more investments are urgently needed to increase staffing at the border and boost technology to detect fentanyl,” Lujan said. “I have long advocated for 100% border screening, and this legislation is one more tool to stop the flow of illicit drugs from entering through the Southwest border. Congress must take action to invest in border security, hold criminals accountable, and put an end to the fentanyl crisis.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, who also represents a border state, expressed a similar sentiment.

“Border Patrol and Port Officers have been stretched far too thin as they do the difficult job of keeping our country safe every single day,” Kelly said. “This bill would give federal law enforcement the additional personnel and technology needed to keep our ports of entry fully staffed, stem the flow of illegal drugs, and secure the border.”

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., right, speaks as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, of D-N.Y., listens after a policy luncheon on June 7 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Mariam Zuhaib/The Associated Press)

The bill would provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with more money to hire more Officers and Border Patrol Agents, hoping to stop fentanyl smuggling. It also would offer funding to buy Non-Intrusive Inspection systems to scan vehicles and cargo at the border; these would offer detailed interior images to help detect fentanyl and other drugs.

Plus, it would establish an inspection program to increase firearm seizure. Mexican cartels often purchase firearms in the United States and smuggle them to Mexico to support fentanyl production and other criminal enterprises, according to the release.

In total, the bill provides $5.3 billion in funding for border security. Of that, $2.05 billion would go to hiring new personnel, including $1.75 for Customs and Border Protection along the southern border. Plus, the bill contains $285 million in funding for outbound inspections of contraband leaving the country, be it firearms, fentanyl, large amounts of cash, and more, an aide to Senator Bill Casey, D-Pennsylvania, told The Center Square.

The text of the bill has not yet been made public.