News Releases

  • Print

“Until we secure the border and protect Americans, we're not going to be able to get to the bottom of the fentanyl problem.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At today’s Senate Committee on Finance hearing, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) discussed how the Biden administration’s open-border agenda is escalating the fentanyl crisis across the country.

Senator Barrasso spoke with addiction treatment experts about how increased drug trafficking has contributed to fentanyl overdose deaths in Wyoming. Barrasso also touched on improving rural access to fentanyl recovery health care and protecting Wyoming’s Native American populations that are targeted by Mexican drug cartels.

Tony Vezina, Abigail Heron, DO, Caleb Banta-Green, Ph.D., MPH, MSW, and Jeanmarie Perrone, MD testified at today’s Senate Committee on Finance hearing titled “Front Lines of the Fentanyl Crisis: Supporting Communities and Combating Addiction through Prevention and Treatment.”

On Biden’s Open Border Bringing Drugs into Wyoming

“I’m truly alarmed by the fentanyl crisis facing our nation, clearly nothing like that existed when I was practicing medicine. It's everywhere, no community is spared. A lethal dose is equivalent to just a few grains of salt. Across the country, the number of deaths have been skyrocketing.

“In my home state of Wyoming, you wouldn't think that it'd be a problem there. We've had 81 opioid-related overdose deaths. This past year has doubled the number from five years ago – completely unacceptable.

“It's touching every community across our nation – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, all losing family members. I hear about it all around the state.

“Since President Biden took office, nearly 10 million illegal immigrants have flooded into our nation. And Senator Grassley touched on this a little earlier today: 77,000 pounds of fentanyl have been confiscated at the border over that time. You don't know how much got through, but you can imagine just based on the statistics and the deaths, the number is high.

“Whether it's from China or Mexico, the transnational criminal networks that are producing, transporting, and marketing these drugs are poisoning our country.

“Our border patrol agents are supposed to be our first line of defense in apprehending the drug smugglers, but they can't get their job done to the level that it needs to be done. They're being forced, I believe, by this administration to deal with unaccompanied minors, asylum seekers who are surging across the border, which is making an increased opportunity for the criminal cartels to get more drugs across.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks on Biden’s open border and drugs in Wyoming.

On Helping Rural Communities to Receive Adequate Fentanyl Recovery Care

“Mr. Vezina, I've read your story, heard what you have to say. I really appreciate your ability to be here, to speak on the substance use disorder care, because that's what we're looking for. Care is needed now more than ever.

“Today, you've spoken about the challenges that folks in recovery face when they don't receive a full continuum of services. It's not like one silver bullet on this, you need the whole thing.

“Your experience as someone in recovery, someone providing collaborative care, says you need a network, mental health counseling, substance use counseling, peer support, case management, medication assisted treatment, all of those things.

“Given the frontier nature of my home state of Wyoming, people are spread out, you don't have all of those services available everywhere. There are only two towns with a population that can support this level that you've described as a specialty care, even less availability for youth focused programs like yours.

“Are there existing programs – either state or federal – that you're aware of that can help in rural communities where you don't have that full continuum, even though we know that's the best treatment?”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks on rural access to recovery care.
On Protecting Targeted Native American Populations from Drug Cartels

“In February this year, the DEA reported on regions of the U.S. being targeted by the Mexican drug cartels. I live in one of those regions in Wyoming.

“They found that the cartels are targeting states further away from the border. The highest area of focus are Native American reservations. Certainly that's the situation in Wyoming.

“Our Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho, they live on Wind River Reservation, larger than the state of Connecticut. I mean, we're talking about a big geographic area and low population.

“It continues to experience one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the state. I’m deeply concerned about the cartels that are targeting our Native American populations.

“A lot of them have to do with the fact that the size of the geography and the smaller number of people make it an area where they can really focus.

“Can the federal government do things? How can we best respond from the federal government level to counter the efforts by the cartels?”

Follow Up:

“Until we secure the border and protect Americans, we're not going to be able to get to the bottom of the fentanyl problem.”

Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks on targeted Native American populations.