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After Visit to Southern Border, Ernst Renews Efforts to Increase Penalties on Individuals Who Fuel Border Crisis, Fentanyl Epidemic

The Iowa senator led a bicameral visit to the California-Mexico border last weekend.

WASHINGTON – After visiting the California-Mexico border last weekend, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is renewing two of her efforts to increase consequences for individuals who aid and abet cartel activity or distribute fentanyl.


“An open border is a drug lord’s dream. It leaves Americans vulnerable to cartels, the criminals who aid them, and those who distribute deadly drugs,” said Ernst. “The criminals profiting from this administration’s border crisis and the fentanyl epidemic need to face consequences that match their crimes, which is what my efforts do.”


The Iowa senator is reintroducing her effort to increase penalties for cartel “spotters” – individuals who aid illegal cartel activity at the border by surveilling Border Patrol. Currently, the cartels employ “spotters” to monitor stretches of the Southern border and report on Border Patrol movements, equipment locations, and other law enforcement activity. Ernst’s bill, the Transnational Criminal Organization Illicit Spotter Prevention and Elimination Act, would harshen penalties on spotters by increasing fines and imposing a maximum prison time of 10 years on those convicted of helping cartels.


Ernst is also joining Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in reintroducing the Felony Murder for Deadly Fentanyl Distribution Act which makes the distribution of fentanyl resulting in death punishable by federal felony murder charges. According to the latest data, fentanyl kills 196 Americans per day, and fentanyl overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18-49.