Statewide Iowa — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says she wants to increase the oversight authority of the Department of Defense as a way to stem the flow of fentanyl at its source in Mexico.
The Republican from Red Oak says the Disrupt Fentanyl Trafficking Act of 2023 has bipartisan support.
Ernst says it would direct the Pentagon to develop a fentanyl-specific counter drug strategy, including enhanced cooperation with Mexican defense officials focused on putting the Pentagon’s tools to use to save lives. Ernst says she is partnering with Democrat Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who is on the Senate Armed Services Committee with her, and says they have Democrats and Republicans, both in the House and the Senate who support it.
She says this is completely legal and there already are counter drug efforts within the DOD.
Ernst, who is retired from the Iowa National Guard, says she has already gone into Mexico and spoken with the Mexican Navy and Army leadership about how everyone can work together to curb fentanyl trafficking.
Iowa has taken on the fight against fentanyl on the state-level as well. Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that significantly increases the criminal penalties for making or selling illegal drugs laced with fentanyl.
The Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement has seized nearly 28,000 fentanyl pills in the last six weeks. Iowa’s Republican governor says it’s no mystery where this flood of fentanyl is coming from.
The bill doubles the penalty making and selling illegal drugs. Those caught with 50 grams of fentanyl could be sentenced to 50 years in an Iowa prison and penalties are also enhanced for selling illegal drugs to a minor. Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird says there are also harsher sentences for providing drugs that lead to an overdose or death.
The governor hosted a roundtable discussion in Atlantic about drug crimes before she signed the bill into law. Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Bayens says opioids are incredibly addictive and stopping the flow of fentanyl and other illegal drugs into urban and rural Iowa is a high priority.
Bayens cites the recent federal indictments of six Iowans after a series of overdoses in Cass and Shelby Counties.
All six of those who were arrested last year have pleaded guilty after being accused of distributing over 10-thousand fentanyl pills in southwest Iowa.