Hoeven Introduces Amendments to Strengthen Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven spoke on the Senate floor to press colleagues to support two amendments he has introduced to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The Hoeven legislation will strengthen the overall bill by providing law enforcement with additional resources to address security vulnerabilities at the northern border that could be exploited by drug traffickers.

“The numbers drive home the problem,” Hoeven said. “In 2014, 61 percent of all overdose deaths in the United States were related to opioids. Addiction is a scourge that ruins lives and crushes the spirt, and this bill is a potent weapon in the fight against it. I urge my colleagues to support the underlying bill, as well as my amendments, which seek to make the legislation even stronger by increasing collaboration among law enforcement and addressing the security of our northern border.”

A New Tool for Law Enforcement

Under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the U.S. Attorney General may make grants to state law enforcement agencies to investigate the distribution of heroin and prescription opioids. The Hoeven amendment allows states to use those grants to partner with local agencies, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as they have successfully done in North Dakota.

North Dakota already has a successful track record of partnering with local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prevent criminal activity, specifically drug related offenses. One successful example of these partnerships is the Bakken Organized Crime Strike Force. This group was created in part by North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force to address the increased drug activity in the Bakken region in western North Dakota.

In the summer of 2015, this task force, working as a single unit across multiple jurisdictions, conducted investigations at the state, local, and federal level that led to the indictment of 29 people for drug related offenses.

Keeping a Closer Eye on the Border

The senator’s second amendment will help to combat the trafficking of narcotics along the nation’s northern border. While there is much attention focused on the trafficking of drugs through our southern border, there are vulnerabilities that exist at our northern border as well. For example, in fiscal year 2013, Customs and Border Protection seized a pound a heroin at the northern border. In fiscal year 2014, they seized over 30 pounds. This increase calls for heightened scrutiny at states along our northern border.

To address that, the Hoeven amendment directs the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney General, to conduct a study on the trafficking of narcotics, specifically opioids and heroin, in states along the northern border. The Secretary of DHS and the Attorney General must submit a report of their findings to Congress. The findings of this report will give Congress greater insight into the security needs at our northern border to prevent the trafficking of illegal drugs into the United States.