Senator Collins Calls for Continued Support from FBI, DEA to Combat Opioid Epidemic in Maine
During hearing, Senator Collins discussed Auburn restaurant that received $3M worth of fentanyl last month
Washington, D.C. — At a hearing to review the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, urged FBI Director Christopher Wray and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram to provide support for the Southern Maine Gang Task Force and the New England Prescription Opioid Task Force.
Senator Collins said:
Last month, employees of a restaurant in Auburn, Maine, were shocked when they opened a box that they expected to contain mugs that they had ordered, and instead, they found 14 kilograms of fentanyl. That's an amount that is sufficient to kill the entire population of Maine, five times over. Fortunately, the employees immediately called the local police, who are now working with federal partners on what is clearly a major interstate trafficking network.
The FBI and the DEA play a key role, in working with state and local law enforcement partners, in combating drug smuggling, violent crime, and gangs in local communities. Director Wray, we've had the opportunity to discuss the importance of these relationships during your visit to Maine last year, which was very much appreciated. In particular, I'm hoping for continued collaboration and support for the Southern Maine Gang Task Force and the New England Prescription Opioid Task Force, which launched last June to address the illegal opioid prescriptions in Maine and in New Hampshire.
Director Wray and Administrator Milgram, as you implement the budget, will you ensure that these programs receive as much support as possible?
Certainly, on my end, these are both team efforts that are very important to me. And I know that, as you may recall from my visit, I guess last August, we are working more closely than ever with our state and local partners in Maine. It meant a lot to me when one of our longtime state law enforcement partners said he'd seen the FBI move from what he called, ‘promise to presence,’ meaning, instead of just talking about being there for them, we were just there and we could be counted on. And that's the kind of thing that I'm very grateful for. And that's the goal that I'm shooting for, with all of our offices.
Senator, for us, we are incredibly fortunate to have more than 3,000 taskforce officers across the United States, and we also have incredible partnerships with state and local law enforcement. So, in the example from the restaurant that you just gave in Maine, our agents responded, and are actively working that investigation right now in partnership with the local police. The work that we did for Operation Last Mile, those 300 arrests, all of those were done in partnerships with local police, police chiefs, police departments, and sheriffs. We could not do the work that we're doing across our communities without them. And so, we are incredibly supportive of that work and of anything that brings us together, sharing information and working with them.
As the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins is pressing forward with Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) to hold subcommittee hearings on the President’s budget request. These hearings provide an important opportunity to assess our country’s needs for the coming year and will help guide Senators Collins and Murray’s efforts to write the annual government funding bills.
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