Iowa

Iowa Parents, Law Enforcement Call for Actions Against Flood of Fentanyl at Drug Caucus Hearing

DES MOINES, IOWA – Parents of Iowans lost to fentanyl poisoning joined state and federal officials to shine a light on the deadly epidemic that is claiming lives at an alarming rate in Iowa and across the country. The discussion was part of a US Senate Caucus hearing on International Narcotics Control in Des Moines, convened by Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Caucus Vice Chairman. The video of the hearing is available HERE.

“I commend the courage of these parents who have recently lost children to fentanyl for shedding a light on a deadly fentanyl epidemic that clearly knows no bounds. Your commitment to raising awareness associated with law enforcement is vital to preventing future tragedies. We must provide the resources and tools necessary to combat cartels that are spreading from fentanyl across the southern border and into our communities here in Iowa.” said Grasley.

“The spread of fentanyl has been steady and deadly in Iowa and across the United States. The CDC estimates that between February 2021 and February 2022, more than 108,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States. Of these, more than 70 percent were linked to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. This is a national emergency. America’s young adults are being fooled and poisoned every 5 minutes.” said Brooke Anderson of Shelbywhose 23-year-old son Devin died of fentanyl poisoning.

“Measures must be taken to prevent drug dealers from selling pills. Action must be taken to have stricter laws to prosecute those who sell pills. Measures must be taken to prevent these illegal pills from crossing our borders. Parents need to talk to their children and schools need to talk to students to raise awareness of the dangers of buying the pill.” said Laurie Arwine of Cedar Rapidswhose 22-year-old son Bailey died of fentanyl poisoning.

“All of these families across the country are going through their own pain. All we can do is turn our pain into meaning, which is why we created the website www.becomethirvoice.org. It’s a place where we can all tell their stories and show their beautiful faces. We make presentations in schools and youth groups to educate the public in hopes this doesn’t happen to others. To make sure her death wasn’t in vain. We all do it to save lives.” said Deric Kidd of Des Moineswhose 17-year-old son Sebastian died of fentanyl poisoning.

“The influx of fentanyl into Iowa touches every corner of our state,” said Stephan Baynes, Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner. “The amount of fentanyl being seized by law enforcement agencies across Iowa is shocking to even the most experienced narcotics and drug chemists. To be honest, I’m surprised our overdose deaths aren’t higher.

“Mexican [transnational criminal organizations] serve as a major source of the illicit fentanyl and methamphetamines that are fueling the drug overdose epidemic in the United States.” said Steven Cagen, associate director of Homeland Security Investigations. “While our collective efforts are carried out with care and a commitment to public safety, the work endures at every level — internationally, at the border, in Iowa, and throughout the United States.” HSI is committed to continuing the fight against the overdose epidemic on all fronts.”

Grassley’s opening remarks at the hearing follow:

Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley

Co-Chair, Senate Committee on International Narcotics Control

Des Moines, Iowa, Onsite Hearing:

Lethal Distribution: How Fentanyl Crosses Boundaries and Claims Lives

October 27, 2022

Sebastian Kidd died of fentanyl poisoning at the age of 17. He hadn’t even graduated from high school yet. But that didn’t stop a Snapchat dealer from selling him a fake fentanyl pill. We should protect children from predators. So how can adults who sell deadly drugs like fentanyl make loot for Iowa teens?

Today’s hearing will examine how this happens and how we can prevent it from happening again.

Sadly, Sebastian Kidd’s story isn’t the only one of its kind. Devin Anderson was 23 and Bailey Arwine was 22 when they died of fentanyl poisoning. Like Sebastian, they didn’t know they were taking fentanyl. The Kidd, Anderson and Arwine families are here today to tell us about their boys.

You’re here to remind us that the 470 Iowans who died from drugs last year is not a statistic. They have names, families and stolen futures.

So thank you to these families for being here and fighting for a public response that goes beyond an offer of condolences.

Pictured are 55 Americans who have lost to fentanyl and whose families work with Kidds organization BecomeTheirVoice.org. They come from all over the country. These victims are just a small representation of the more than 70,000 lives lost to opioid use last year. Most were lost to fentanyl and its related substances. There could be a vote on important fentanyl legislation in a few weeks. That is why we need to have this hearing now.

Fentanyl is cheap, addictive, and the high wears off quickly. It doesn’t grow in a field. Fentanyl is typically manufactured in Mexican cartel labs using chemicals purchased in China.

With one small change, it may be outside the legal definition of “fentanyl” in the Controlled Substances Act. And just 3 milligrams of it — the equivalent of 10 to 15 grains of table salt — will kill a grown man.

Fentanyl often enters the United States through the southwestern border. That’s where the Department of Homeland Security took these photos. Border Patrol finds fentanyl hidden in suitcases. Stows in natural car cavities. Strapped to people’s bodies. And stuffed into their clothes.

This year alone, the Border Patrol seized approximately 12,860 pounds of fentanyl. But we do know that this is only a tiny fraction of the fentanyl that makes it to the US. In 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized enough fentanyl to kill every American. This is fentanyl that made it through our borders, despite the Border Patrol’s best efforts.

From the border, America’s highways provide an easy transportation network for the cartels. It’s about a 17-hour drive from the southwest border to Des Moines, Iowa. It doesn’t even take a whole day.

It’s just a straight shot up Interstate 35. Today every state is a border state.

Anyone following the news has seen the warnings to stay away from fentanyl. Be careful what items you pick up and what your kids might mistake as candy.

While Americans are rightly heeding these warnings, the men and women represented by our law enforcement panel are rushing to meet the threat. Thank you for your service.

The following video shows what is happening on the front lines in the fight against fentanyl.

These heartbreaking stories of lost children deserve our attention. We must do what we can to prevent other families from suffering the same loss. This hearing is a step towards fulfilling that commitment.

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