Florida Congresswoman helps leads charge against online fentanyl trafficking

by | Jan 17, 2024

The “Combating Online Fentanyl Trafficking Act,” co-introduced by U.S. Congresswoman from Florida Rep. Laurel Lee, aims to enhance the Department of Justice’s capacity to fight online fentanyl distribution.

In a bipartisan legislative effort, U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Laurel Lee helped introduce the “Combating Online Fentanyl Trafficking Act” this week, which aims to strengthen the Department of Justice’s ability to combat the distribution of fentanyl through online channels.

Co-introduced by Colorado Congressman Rep. Joe Neguse, the legislation proposes the enhancement of the federal workforce through the recruitment of individuals with specialized cybersecurity skills necessary for detecting, preventing, and prosecuting online drug trafficking.

The legislation additionally proposes incentive pay, up to 25 percent of basic pay, for positions requiring such skills in the Department of Justice, aimed at attracting and retaining the necessary talent

The introduction of the bill follows a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cited over 112,000 overdose deaths in 2023, many of which were attributed to fentanyl.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been increasingly trafficked through the dark web, according to governmental findings, presenting difficulties for law enforcement agencies to combat the drug’s distribution. The bill seeks to address this issue by enhancing the federal workforce with individuals skilled in cybersecurity. These personnel are considered essential in the detection, prevention, and prosecution of online drug trafficking.

“The fentanyl crisis has impacted every community in this nation, despite tireless efforts from law enforcement to curb the flow of fentanyl that is pouring into our country and communities, these lethal drugs are being trafficked on the dark web,” said Lee. “The Combating Online Fentanyl Trafficking Act will assist the federal government in stopping fentanyl trafficking online.

In 2022, Florida reported a notably high incidence of deaths related to fentanyl, totaling 5,083, positioning the state as having the second-highest number of fentanyl-related deaths in the United States.

In 2023, however, Florida was among eight states that saw decreases in overdose deaths. This reduction, particularly significant given the state’s previously high rates, can be linked to several key factors including enhanced public health initiatives and educational campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the risks of drug use.

“As the death toll continues to rise, Americans need our help,” Lee said. “This bill will bolster the federal workforce with individuals specialized in cybersecurity skills and knowledge to aid in the detection, prevention, or prosecution of fentanyl trafficking.”


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