Cortez Masto: Working with law enforcement to get drugs off our streets

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto

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Two decades ago, methamphetamine was tearing through our communities and devastating Nevada families. The meth crisis was a big reason why I decided to run for Attorney General of Nevada. During my time as AG, I worked closely with law enforcement in both the United States and Mexico to go after meth manufacturers, limit the sale of chemicals that can be used as ingredients for meth, and combat cross-border drug trafficking.

Our police are still working hard to hold meth manufacturers and traffickers accountable. But now, Nevadans and Americans across the country are dealing with another major drug crisis. Since June of last year, Nevada has seen an almost 50% increase in opioid overdoses. Fentanyl and other opioids like it are a danger to our families, our neighborhoods, and our first responders.

Unfortunately, in recent years, we’ve seen fentanyl take a similar trajectory to meth. That’s why, in the Senate, it’s been my priority to work with agencies across Nevada to get our law enforcement the resources they need to crack down on the flow of fentanyl and other opioids into our neighborhoods.

Drug traffickers use multiple channels to funnel opioids into our communities, and we have to tackle all of them to combat this crisis. I’ve pushed to make sure our law enforcement have the tools they need to deter drug smuggling at the southern border. I wrote and passed legislation to help us better understand and fight online drug trafficking. And, I introduced and passed a package of bipartisan bills to hold criminals accountable for abusing Medicare to acquire opioids and to help put an end to fraudulent substance abuse treatment programs.

Now, we need to attack from the very top: go after fentanyl traffickers and producers at the source. How do we do that? By following the money. I just passed bipartisan legislation in the Senate, the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, to go directly after the supply chain by targeting, sanctioning, and blocking the financial assets of criminal organizations trafficking and manufacturing fentanyl. This is an important step in the fight against fentanyl.

We also have to contend with new, dangerous drugs that are hitting the streets. Earlier this year, I started hearing from law enforcement about how a new drug, xylazine, has been making its way into our neighborhoods. Xylazine is an animal tranquilizer (hence its nickname, “tranq”) that drug traffickers have been adding to fentanyl to increase the potency of the drug and boost their profits – with horrifying side effects. It’s also extremely deadly, and because it is not an opioid, Narcan cannot be used to reverse any xylazine overdoses.

Once I heard about xylazine and its effects, I knew we had to get out ahead of it. Xylazine isn’t a scheduled drug, which means that right now, our law enforcement agencies don’t have the tools they need to track it and go after traffickers. After several conversations with agencies across the state of Nevada, I introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation in Congress to treat the illicit use of xylazine as a Schedule III drug and give the Drug Enforcement Agency and local law enforcement the resources they need to get this destructive drug off our streets, all while protecting its use as a veterinary tranquilizer for our ranchers who need it. This is how we control and combat these harmful substances.

We still have work to do to keep dangerous drugs out of our neighborhoods, but these bills are going to make a difference for our communities. This has been my mission since before I became Nevada’s Attorney General, and I’m going to keep working with our law enforcement to get fentanyl off our streets and protect our families.

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto can be reached through her website at


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