Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has introduced legislation she says will combat heroin andmethamphetamine trafficking between the United States and Mexico.
The Stop the Drugs at the Border Act of 2015 was introduced Thursday. Capito, a Republican, joined with Sen. Joe Donnelley, D-Ind., to introduce the bill.
The legislation includes a few key components, including requiring the Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy to respond to the increase in heroin and meth trafficking along the border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection to submit a report to Congress within four months of the bill’s enactment detailing the resources needed for the agency and other law enforcement to respond to the need.
Capito said the legislation is just the first step in combating the growing crisis.
“I realize we need to have a spectrum of strategies to address these problems,” Capito said. “This is a small part. It really goes to the heart of trying to assess and stop and mitigate the flow of heroin across the U.S.-Mexico border.”
According to Capito’s office, the seizure of heroin and meth by border patrol agents alone is only increasing. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of heroin seizures increased 71 percent while the number of meth seizures grew by 66 percent. The volume of heroin seized grew by nearly 50 percent while the volume of meth increased by 105 percent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. deaths linked to heroin overdose increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.
Capito said she’s met with West Virginia law enforcement officials, including Lt. Chad Napier of the Charleston Police Department, a decorated former commander of the Metro Drug Unit, to learn more about the issue and how best to solve it.
“Heroin deaths are up, overdoses are up, more young people are the victims of this,” Capito said. “We’re working with (law enforcement) and also the High Intensity Drug Trafficking unit in the Kanawha Valley and across the state.”
In a statement, Donnelley said meth and heroin use have hit this state hard. Capito said West Virginia and Indiana are just two states seeing increased drug use and deaths linked to overdose.
“I think if West Virginia is seeing this, and our statistics have increased over the past several years, every state has to be feeling this,” she said.
Other members of the Senate have expressed their support for this legislation. Co-sponsors are still signing on.
“We need a hands-on approach and we need to help our law enforcement resources meet this tough challenge,” Capito said. “That’s what this is about. This is just the beginning.”