ICYMI—Hagerty Seeks Commitment from State Nominee to Work with Mexico to Stop the Trafficking of Fentanyl and Precursors from China

May 19, 2021

WASHINGTON – United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, today sought a commitment from Ambassador Michele Jeanne Sison, nominee to be an Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, to work with Mexico in multilateral forums to stop the import of fentanyl from China.

Hagerty, who recently visited Guatemala and Mexico to discuss solutions the crisis at our southern border, heard from Mexican officials that they need law enforcement and technology assistance to help stop fentanyl, fentanyl precursors, and other illegal drugs from China at their border before it enters the United States via the southern border. Customs and Border Protection confirmed this week that they have already seized more fentanyl at the border in 2021 than in all of 2020.

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Partial Transcript Below:

Hagerty: “What was very clear to me is that China is increasing the movement of fentanyl and fentanyl precursors into Mexico. These are getting manufactured and then trafficked across our border. It appears that all of the cooperation between Mexico and the United States to interdict this has collapsed. I’d be very interested in your thoughts on how, in the position that you’re hopefully going to go to, how you can increase our cooperation with Mexico to push back against China and their importation of this illegal drug that’s killing our children?”

Sison: “Good morning, Senator. And I share your concerns about these illegal drugs coming into our country as both a mother and a grandmother. There is definitely an important role within the UN and multilateral space to push this us priority forward. And if confirmed, I look forward to consulting with you working with you and with stakeholders in organizations, such as the Universal Postal Union, because there is a postal piece of this, and the work that we’ve done on some of the standards has actually made a difference in the multilateral sphere in enforcing and moving these norms into the international space, as well as in the UN body that deals with drugs and crime.”

Hagerty: “I’d look forward to working with you, and I’ll just add this. The Mexican authorities made clear to me that they don’t have the technology to examine the cargo that’s coming in from China. They felt like we could help them significantly. There you think about x-ray technology, heat sensing technology, the types of things that they could use to deal with the fact that China’s become very clever hiding fentanyl and the precursors that are being shipped into their country and then being remanufactured. So I appreciate that commitment and look forward to working with you.”