- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Congressional Republicans demanded answers from Homeland Security Wednesday over growing dangers of “rainbow fentanyl” just before Halloween.

Top members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee doubted whether the Biden administration is taking the new drug threat seriously enough, pointing to the southern border where most of the brightly colored fentanyl pills are entering the U.S.

Reps. James Comer of Kentucky, the committee’s ranking Republican, and Michael Cloud of Texas, the top Republican on the economic and consumer policy subcommittee, said they want answers on what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to block fentanyl pills from reaching children, and in particular “to prevent them from being confused for Halloween candy.”

Fentanyl is the number one killer of young Americans. Yet, the Biden administration continues its reckless open border policies which have now emboldened criminal cartels to target American children in their drug trafficking operations,” Mr. Cloud said. “As Halloween approaches, it is more important than ever before to be wary of what our children are consuming and to be on the lookout for any suspicious candy.”

The Washington Times has reached out to Homeland Security for comment.

The letter came just days after the government released final border numbers for fiscal 2022. They showed a shocking increase in fentanyl pouring over the southern border in recent months, with more than 2,000 pounds a month

That’s double the rate of 2021 and five times the rate of 2020, the last full year under the Trump administration.

Border analysts say the more that’s seized, the more that’s getting through.

Another sign of the chaos is the growing size of each shipment. In September 2021, the average fentanyl shipment Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detected was 5.7 pounds. Last month, it was three times that size.

Homeland Security data doesn’t break down how much of that is rainbow fentanyl, the brightly colored form of the deadly synthetic opioid that authorities are worried about.

Officials say the colors are designed specifically to entice a younger clientele.

Republicans tie fentanyl to the border chaos in several ways. They say the same cartels that control the migrant smuggling routes also run the drug across the boundary.

Border experts also say the massive amounts of cash the cartels are pocketing from migrant-smuggling are being pumped into the drug trade, allowing cartels to purchase more precursor chemicals to produce fentanyl.

Immigrant-rights groups vehemently reject linking the migrant chaos with drug trafficking.

Fentanyl is not an immigration issue,” Zachary Mueller, political director of America’s Voice, said in a statement pushing back on GOP claims this month. “Fentanyl is smuggled in mostly through legal points of entry, mostly by U.S. citizens, paid for by demand emanating from U.S. citizens. The migrants seeking asylum, safety, jobs and the American dream who are coming to the border are not cogs in the fentanyl importation machine.”

Mr. Comer and Mr. Cloud in their letter laid blame directly at the feet of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“You have chosen to ignore Congressional Republicans, who have repeatedly called on this administration to address the border crisis and trafficking of narcotics. Your dereliction of duty to secure our border has only made the problem worse.,” they wrote.

They asked for documents from Mr. Mayorkas that would reveal what efforts he’s made to combat fentanyl trafficking and particularly the rainbow version.

And they specifically asked about efforts to keep fentanyl out of the hunt for Halloween candy.

Public health experts have generally tamped down on worries about rainbow fentanyl at Halloween, placing it alongside past drugs-in-candy scare stories that proved not to be based on facts.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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