The proposed legislation comes at a critical juncture as communities across the United States grapple with a surge in overdose deaths linked to these potent synthetic opioids. Fentanyl has emerged as a significant public health concern due to its alarming potency and role in exacerbating the opioid epidemic.

In a press release, Congressman LaLota underscored the urgent need for a coordinated federal response to tackle the proliferation of these dangerous substances.

“Illicit narcotics such as fentanyl and xylazine have hurt communities across this country, including at home on Long Island. We must give law enforcement every tool needed to keep our communities safe while enhancing public awareness about these substances’ effects,” said LaLota. “I am proud to partner with Congressman Correa on the bipartisan DETECT Fentanyl and Xylazine Act to help our law enforcement agencies better combat these substances that have claimed too many lives and left countless families in despair. I am committed to ending this public health pandemic and fighting to make sure every ounce of these narcotics is off our streets and out of our communities”.

Congressman Correa, co-sponsor of the bill and a vocal advocate for comprehensive drug policy reform, emphasized the bipartisan nature of the initiative.

“Illegal drug smugglers have made it their mission to poison our neighborhood with illicit drugs by evading detection whenever, and wherever, they can. Those tasked with protecting our homeland should have the best technology available to find the smallest amounts of fentanyl possible to protect those we represent and keep our streets safe,” remarked Correa in a statement. “By allowing law enforcement to research and develop new, cutting-edge technologies to better detect fentanyl and other drugs, we will better keep our communities safe”.

Key provisions of the bill include creating a new statutory responsibility for the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) at the Department of Homeland Security to carry out research, development, testing, evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis to improve the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of drug detection equipment and reference libraries used by Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Establishing three focus areas with flexibility to adopt other focuses in the future including portable detection equipment that requires minimal handling of sample, equipment that can separate complex mixtures with low concentrations of drugs and high concentrations of cutting agents into parts to enable detection and technologies that use AI and machine learning to predict whether a substance is a controlled substance analog or other new psychoactive substance not yet included in a reference library. As well as a state and territory report on enduring and emerging threats in establishing priorities.

The bill has garnered broad support from law enforcement organizations, addiction treatment providers, and public health advocates who have witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of synthetic opioids on individuals and families.

As the bill progresses through the legislative process, Congressman LaLota and Congressman Correa have called for bipartisan cooperation and public engagement to ensure its swift passage. They urge constituents and stakeholders to voice their support and contribute to shaping effective policies that mitigate the impact of synthetic opioids on communities nationwide and the ability to better identify when these substances are used.

LaLota’s bipartisan initiative with Congressman Correa marks a significant milestone in the fight against fentanyl and xylazine misuse and underscores the importance of collaborative efforts to safeguard public health and safety. With strong bipartisan backing and community support, the proposed legislation holds promise for bringing about meaningful change in combating the opioid crisis gripping the United States.