Portman Calls for Redoubled Efforts to Address Addiction in United States to Help Combat Drug Trade After Visiting Central and South America

July 12, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) recently concluded a multi-day, bipartisan congressional delegation (CODEL) to Central and South America where he met with leaders in government, business, and civil society to discuss the shared challenges and opportunities between the United States and Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador. In particular, Portman, who has long been a leader in Congress on the issue of prescription and illicit drug abuse and addiction in the United States, heard repeatedly about the domestic security challenges posed by dangerous and well-organized drug cartels operating in these countries – the same cartels that produce many of the lethal drugs, like fentanyl, that have contributed to the addiction crisis in the United States.

Portman issued the following statement calling for more action in the United States to address the addiction crisis and help lessen the demand that sustains these dangerous cartels that are destabilizing our regional allies in Central and South America:

“I appreciated the opportunity to join my bipartisan colleagues on this important trip to visit some of our closest allies in Central and South America and discuss some of the most critical issues we face together. In particular, I was struck by the reports I heard in Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, and Ecuador about the impact of the global drug trade on the internal security situation in those countries. Addictive and lethal drugs that ravage communities in Ohio and across the U.S. are often produced in these countries by dangerous and well-organized cartels that operate using campaigns of violence and terror that affect ordinary, law-abiding families. I brought up the issue of stopping fentanyl and interdicting the shipment of its precursors with the heads of state in every country I visited. I impressed on them the importance of working together to stop the production of this deadly drug, which has killed so many Americans.

“As we look for ways to solve this international challenge, we must recognize that addressing the demand for these drugs here in the United States is just as important as addressing the supply side in Latin America. The steps we take here in America to turn the tide of addiction and lessen the demand for these dangerous drugs will have a real and lasting impact on our partners in ending this transnational criminal activity by cutting off these cartels from a particularly lucrative market. I will continue to work to pass bipartisan legislation like my CARA 3.0 to provide the resources we need to combat drug addiction in the United States and help weaken the criminal groups that pose a threat to us and our allies in Central and South America.”