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Sen. Sherrod Brown talks FEND Off Fentanyl Act in Cincinnati

 man stands in front of sheriff's office flag and logo.
Zack Carreon
Sen. Sherrod Brown in Cincinnati on June 28, 2023.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is pushing for the U.S. Senate to approve a new bill that intends to slow the flow of fentanyl into the United States.

Brown stopped by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office in Cincinnati on Wednesday to explain how the legislation would target the drug's suppliers and make treating drug addiction easier in Ohio. He was joined by Sheriff Charmine McGuffey, Hamilton County Commission Vice President Denise Driehaus, and Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan.

The Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act is a sanctions and anti-money laundering bill that seeks to target chemical suppliers from China who ship products used to make fentanyl to Mexico. Brown says the bill will strengthen current laws and allow the U.S. to impose financial penalties on Chinese companies connected to shipments of drug-making substances.

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"Federal agents and the U.S. Government can use their tools to sanction the Chinese precursor chemicals, the chemicals that are coming from China that go to Mexico and then are made into fentanyl," Brown said.

The bill would specifically look at chemical shipments deemed suspicious and identify their source.

"Those precursor chemicals, some of them are not illegal by themselves, that's one of the complexities of this," Brown told reporters. "They're used for other things, too, but we know when they ship this stuff here we will be able to tell where it's going. We will be able to sanction by going after the money."

The goal of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act is to weaken suppliers, which Brown says will ultimately make combating the use of the drug easier for local law enforcement and will ease the stress put on treatment centers dealing with the crisis.

"It really does trickle down," Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan said. "When that supply is disrupted, it gives us breathing room. It allows for our efforts to get caught up."

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Sheriff McGuffy applauded Sen. Brown's effort to move the bill forward with support from both sides of the aisle.

"To go after the source of where this is coming from is genius, and to have it be bipartisan is another example for everybody to understand we're all in it together," McGuffy said.

Brown says the bill has 61 co-sponsors with an almost equal amount of Democrats and Republicans in support of the legislation.

The bill will soon be discussed on the Senate floor.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.