Hagerty: Our state is facing a grave threat from fentanyl, and it’s being smuggled across our southern border

January 11, 2024

Speaks to Tennessean and CMA award winner ‘Jelly Roll’ about fentanyl’s impact on the artist’s life and in Tennessee

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today in a hearing spoke to Tennessean and CMA’s New Artist of the Year, Jason “Jelly Roll” DeFord, regarding the grave impacts on Tennesseans of fentanyl and other illicit drugs, most of which are coming illegally across the southern border.

“Our state is facing a grave threat from drug overdoses,” Hagerty said. “In fact, we have the number two mortality rate in the nation in Tennessee. And according to the Tennessee Department of Health, the majority of these overdoses are linked to illicit fentanyl. Every time I talk to Tennessee sheriffs, they tell me that each month is worse than the month before it, in terms of drug overdose and drug trafficking. And if I get to what’s causing this, the fentanyl’s being made from Chinese precursors, that’s coming into Mexico, where it’s manufactured there, then it’s being smuggled across our southern border. In fiscal year 2023, Customs and Border Protection seized 26,000 pounds of fentanyl at the border, and that’s only the amount that we’re catching.”

Hagerty noted that policymakers in Washington often lose sight of what actually matters to and impacts the lives of their constituents. No example is clearer than the fentanyl epidemic, which has stolen far too many American lives. “Here in DC, I think there’s often a disconnect [between] what’s happening in the bubble of Washington and what American citizens are actually experiencing across the country,” Hagerty said.

“We’re here talking about a bill that addresses the supply, but I would love to get your perspective on how we might address the demand?” Hagerty asked.

“Being a Tennessean, I am very respectful of all that you’ve done for our state,” said DeFord. “Not only do we have the second biggest mortality rate, Nashville actually was the second most dangerous deadly metropolis in America for fentanyl behind Baltimore. I had a meeting with our mayor about it recently, and, just to the actual demand of it, I think there’s not a proper education about it. I don’t think there’s enough resources for people to learn about it.”

Hagerty also highlighted with another witness, the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Patrick Yoes, that communities refusing to hold accountable criminals that commit fentanyl crimes makes the situation worse.

“When we’re able to apply pressure and take people off the street who prey on the people within our communities, we have an impact on the quality of life in the community,” said Yoes. “When we’re unable to do so, then we see the problems that we see in a lot of cities across this country.”

“It is clearly leading to more deaths on our streets,” Hagerty concluded.

*Click the photo above or here to watch*