Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) introduced legislation on Thursday that makes the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death punishable by federal felony murder charges.

This comes as the crisis on the southern border continues to plague the country under the Biden administration.

Known as the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act (pdf), the bill amends the U.S. code, to punish the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death as felony murder. Such an offense is equivalent to premeditated murder.

“Whoever is guilty of murder in the first degree by distributing fentanyl shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for life,” reads the bill.

The bill comes as the synthetic opioid becomes the leading cause of overdose death among Americans aged 18-45 and as drug dealers increasingly target children and young people with candy-colored, yet potentially deadly fentanyl pills. The highly addictive pain killer is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, as just 2 milligrams can be fatal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance, and past usage.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fentanyl overdoses accounted for over 71,000 death in 2021, up from about 58,000 in 2020, with an even sharper increase expected in 2022.

“The Faces of Fentanyl” wall, which displays photos of Americans who died from a fentanyl overdose, at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) headquarters in Arlington, Va., on July 13, 2022. (Agnes Bun/AFP via Getty Images)

“Fentanyl is killing Americans at a record high. This deadly drug is widespread throughout our country and has left no community untouched. This bill would make drug dealers pay the price for selling deadly fentanyl,” Rubio said in a Sept. 15 press release.

On that same day in Los Angeles, a 15-year-old boy was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter for allegedly selling a fentanyl-laced drug to a pair of Bernstein High School students—one of whom died—while a 16-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly peddling drugs to a student in a nearby park.

Also joining Rubio are 13 Republican co-sponsors, including Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

Border Security

The majority of fentanyl is made in China or synthesized from precursor chemicals supplied from China. It’s then smuggled to the United States either directly or via the U.S.–Mexico border.

“Fentanyl is being smuggled through our southern border at record levels,” said Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) who introduced companion legislation in the House, noting cartels are eyeing the young.

“With the Biden Administration failing to resolve this national security crisis, it is time for Congress to take matters into its own hands,” he said.

As President Joe Biden presided over the largest number of apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the border, data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that border agents seized 2,130 pounds of fentanyl in July, more than three times than was intercepted in June, and topping the previous monthly record of nearly 1,300 pounds set in April.

It nearly equals the total amount of fentanyl confiscated throughout 2019.

Epoch Times Photo
A fatal dose of fentanyl (2mg) is displayed next to a penny. (DEA)

Senators denounced the Biden administration’s failure to secure the border that led to the “fentanyl epidemic.”

“For too long, people have suffered addiction and death because of this evil drug that is pouring across Joe Biden’s open southern border,” Scott said in a statement, urging “the immediate passage” of the bill.

Last month, border patrol agents arrested two U.S. citizens and seized 340 packages of fentanyl pills near Gila Bend, Arizona, weighing a total of 187 pounds, which can kill up to 42 million people.

White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rita Li


Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.

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