(Washington, DC) – Rep. Steve Knight (R-Antelope Valley) introduced H.R. 5546 on Wednesday to authorize the use of certain Department of Defense funds for combating opioid trafficking and abuse in the United States.
This bill authorizes $20 million of the National Guard’s counterdrug programs to be used in support of interagency efforts to combat opioid trafficking and abuse.
“The opioid crisis is growing and we need all hands on deck in order to tackle this problem,” Knight said. “This bill directs funding to ensure the DOD, Homeland Security, and other government agencies work in conjunction with one another to share information and resources to stop the illegal drug trade.”
In 2016 alone, there were more than 42,000 deaths related to opioids in the United States, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Unlike other crimes, the sale and trafficking of illicit drugs continue to rise exponentially each year.
A large percentage of illicit drugs and production assets are brought to the United States from overseas.
“This has grown beyond a mere law-enforcement issue and is now a national security concern,” Knight said. “One of the primary sources of funding for terrorist organizations and international cartels is the sale of illicit drugs. Our military has intelligence and surveillance assets that can prove to be incredibly useful for other government agents in counter-narcotics efforts.
“It only makes sense that we deploy them appropriately to address this vitally important issue,” he said. “Not only will this help protect our communities from these dangerous drugs, but it also cuts off funding for those who would do us harm.”
Knight is an 18-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department with first-hand knowledge of what law enforcement personnel need to combat the drug trade at the street level. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force.