(CNSNews.com) - DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized enough fentanyl last year to kill every American citizen twice over.
During questioning at the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) asked Nielsen if there were any significant seizures of fentanyl at the border recently.
“The crisis isn’t just with respect to immigration. It’s with respect to the drugs that are pouring across this border and that are killing our kids with respect to five an hour for heroin alone, which is frightening,” Katko noted.
“And one of the big components to that is fentanyl, and just a tiny amount of fentanyl is what’s proven fatal in most of the heroin overdoses now, because the fentanyl’s being mixed with the heroin. Can you tell us if there’s been any significant seizures of fentanyl at the border recently?” he asked.
“At the border, yes, in the interior as well. ICE overall interdicted enough fentanyl last year to kill every American twice over - substantial amounts of fentanyl,” Nielsen said.
“That’s frightening. So that’s enough to kill every single American?” Katko asked.
“Twice,” Nielsen said.
Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) said 15 million pounds of drugs were seized on the southern border since Fiscal Year 2012. Nielsen said that figure doesn’t include drugs seized by the Coast Guard.
Walker said 700 to 800 pounds of fentanyl was seized in Fiscal Year 2018.
WALKER: What is the volume of drugs that is coming through the southern border illegally?
NIELSEN: I don’t have the exact figure at my fingertips, but it’s going up, particularly cocaine, methamphetamines and unfortunately, fentanyl.
WALKER:Our numbers show since Fiscal Year 12, about 15 million pounds seized. Does that sound like that’s in the ballpark?
NIELSEN: It does, but it sounds like it might not include the Coast Guard.
WALKER: 15 million pounds. Would you say that’s a crisis - 15 million pounds?
NIELSEN: Yes, sir.
WALKER: We talked about fentanyl a little bit earlier - a drug so powerful that less than five pounds can kill over a million people. Our numbers show that almost 700 to 800 pounds in Fiscal Year 2018. Does that somewhere in the ballpark?
WALKER: Would that be a crisis to the DHS?
NIELSEN: It is, because it’s a extraordinary danger to our communities, but it’s also a danger to those who are expecting packages. We’ve spent a lot of time on training. We had to do a lot of things differently, even for the dogs who were dying just by virtue of breathing the fumes from the fentanyl.