Sherrod Brown explains anti-drug bills to Valley task force


U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown stopped by the Mahoning Valley Law Enforcement Task Force for Overdose Awareness Day Thursday to discuss legislation aimed at stopping fentanyl from getting into the country.

Just Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health released statistics stating that 4,050 people died of overdoses in the state last year — a 1,000-person increase over 2015 data.

“All these numbers are just terrifying,” Brown said.

Detective Lt. Jeff Solic, who leads the task force, added that without naloxone, those numbers could be significantly higher.

“One [death] is too many,” Solic said. “4,000 is unacceptable.”

Many of the deaths are driven by the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, experts say.

Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, introduced the INTERDICT Act, which would spend $15 million and provide Customs and Border Protection with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to intercept shipments of fentanyl before they enter the country.

“We have the technology,” Brown said. “We just haven’t provided the funding to employ it effectively.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, also supports the legislation. Portman also introduced the STOP Act, which Brown supports,which would improve tracking of shipments from overseas in an attempt to stop fentanyl from reaching the U.S.

Read more about the situation in Friday's Vindicator or on

Most of the fentanyl originates in China, Brown said.

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