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Bill to Help Combat Meth Trafficking Introduced in Senate

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U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) announced his original cosponsorship of the Methamphetamine Trafficking Prevention Act, a bill that was introduced yesterday evening by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). The bill would provide money for the development of methamphetamine (meth) detection technology for use at the borders and coordination of anti-meth activities with other countries.

"Meth abuse is a national epidemic that requires a comprehensive solution," said Senator DeWine, a member of the Senate Anti-Methamphetamine Caucus. "This bill would be a key part of that solution by attacking the problem of meth trafficking with better detection technology at our borders and improved coordination with other countries on anti-meth activities. We must keep this dangerous drug from entering our country, further infiltrating our communities and hurting our children and families."

The bill would allocate an additional $15 million from the Department of Justice's Meth Hot Spots Program for the creation of "Border Technology Grants." These grants would go towards the incorporation of technology to detect methamphetamine and its precursors on the border or through aerial surveillance. Grants may also be used to develop technologies that can detect active meth lab sites on or near the border through the use of hyperspectral sensors. The bill would make $5 million available to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to deploy additional trace chemical detectors along U.S. borders.

The bill would also encourage coordination of anti-meth activities with other countries by instructing the United States Trade Representative to discuss methamphetamine and precursor trafficking with each trading partner in any multilateral or bilateral negotiations. The Trade Representative would be encouraged to consider ways to curb illicit use and shipment of pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, and similar chemicals into the United States. In addition, the bill would authorize $2 million towards the DEA's exchange program for foreign law enforcement officers. These foreign law enforcement officers could be police, prosecutors, or other law enforcement officers from countries that traffic methamphetamine or its precursors into the United States. These officers would be selected by the DEA in order to maximize the effect of U.S. education and training efforts to help their countries stop exporting meth to the U.S.

Lastly, the bill would require that the Department of Justice issue a report to Congress on the problems faced by Indian reservations located at or near U.S. borders with respect to methamphetamine trafficking and abuse.

Senator DeWine has worked continuously to fight illegal drugs in Ohio and throughout the United States, specifically focusing on preventing meth use and production. In 2005, Senator DeWine was a co-sponsor of the Combat Meth Act, which limits the availability of precursors used to produce meth. The President signed the provisions into law as part of the PATRIOT Act earlier this year. In addition, he is the sponsor of the National Methamphetamine Information Clearinghouse Act, which would provide a forum for agencies and groups to post the "best practices" that have worked in the fight against meth in their communities. He also co-sponsored the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2005, to establish guidelines for cleaning-up meth labs, and develop new meth detection capabilities, and a Resolution establishing a National Methamphetamine Prevention Week.

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