By Naeisha Rose
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is urging President Donald Trump to help New York City eliminate drug trafficking by signing a bill that would bring high-tech machines able to detect the powerful drug fentanyl to John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The bill, known as the Interdict Act, would allow portable chemical detection technology to JFK immediately to help stop the opioid scourge that has been gripping the country, according to the senator.
“This new law will make sure our ports of entry, field labs and international mail facilities have access to more handheld chemical scanners to test suspicious substances and provide vital real-time data on its source,” Schumer said. “That means narcotics, like illicit fentanyl, can be quickly detected, identified and seized on the spot.”
Schumer’s plea comes months after the Drug Enforcement Administration made the largest fentanyl busts across the country in Queens on Aug. 1 and the Bronx on Sept. 5, according to their DEA agents.
A record 270 pounds of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine valued at $30 million was discovered at a bust, according to the DEA.
“The NYPD has been successful in drug interdiction to date, but this seizure goes down in history as a milestone in the ongoing fight against fentanyl,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.
DEA agents and NYPD officers worked together to recover a total of over 140 pounds of pure fentanyl, over 48.5 pounds of fentanyl mixed with other drugs, over 11 pounds of heroin, and over 13.2 pounds of cocaine from a Queens couple in a residential building at 85-15 120th St. in Kew Gardens.
The NYPD said that the 140 pounds of pure fentanyl, which was tested in a lab, has the potential to kill 32 million people alone.
The Center of Disease Control says that as little as 2 milligrams of fentanyl, or a little more than .00007 of an ounce, can be lethal. Visually speaking, it looks like a few grains of sand.
“As a major port of entry, JFK International Airport should be amongst the first locations to receive new high-tech drug scanners once this bill is signed into law,” Schumer said.
In his letter to the president, Schumer explained that fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and is wreaking havoc across New York. According to stats the senator cited from the city’s Health Department, there were 233 fentanyl deaths in Long Island and 493 overall opioid-related deaths in New York in 2016.
The senator’s office states that the drugs are mostly made in China, then shipped via mail or commercial flights through JFK Airport, or smuggled in from Mexico.
Schumer also wants to protect transit agents from fentanyl as well as from Carfentanil, another form of fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger and used to tranquilize elephants.
The new high-tech tool “means our diligent screening staff is more safe because they will not have to risk their own safety to expose dangerous substances,” the senator said.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose