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Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bill Cassidy are urging the Biden administration to take more action in combating drug cartels’ use of cryptocurrency to traffic fentanyl, a drug that is responsible for thousands of American deaths each year. The senators have requested information on the administration’s specific actions regarding crypto’s role in the fentanyl trade and how they measure success in addressing this issue.

There is growing concern in Congress about the fentanyl crisis and how easily Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartels can obtain ingredients online to produce the synthetic opioid. A CNN investigation found that cryptocurrency transactions for fentanyl ingredients surged 450% in the year through April 2023, highlighting the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in keeping up with this evolving threat.

The Biden administration has announced multiple initiatives in the past year to enhance law enforcement, intelligence gathering, and anti-money laundering capabilities to track and intercept fentanyl proceeds. However, Senators Warren and Cassidy are seeking information on the progress of these initiatives, any obstacles encountered, and how Congress can support these efforts. The senators expressed particular concern about how cryptocurrency contributes to the deadly fentanyl trade.

Fentanyl remains a sensitive diplomatic issue in US relations with Mexico and China, as most of the drug entering the US originates from ingredients made in China and is smuggled in by Mexican drug cartels. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently led a delegation to Beijing to discuss money laundering concerns, including those related to fentanyl. The DEA has highlighted the need for increased cooperation from China in sharing intelligence on individuals breaking money laundering laws.

The senators’ letter also asks about any statutory limits the DEA is facing in investigating cryptocurrency’s role in the fentanyl trade and whether there are specific recommendations for Congress to address this issue. The Biden administration has been actively working to combat the fentanyl crisis, but the senators are pushing for more transparency and information on the effectiveness of these efforts.

The senators’ bipartisan partnership reflects the widespread concern in Congress about the impact of fentanyl trafficking and the role of cryptocurrency in facilitating these illegal activities. By putting pressure on the administration to address these issues, Senators Warren and Cassidy are seeking to strengthen the US government’s response to the fentanyl crisis and protect American lives from the devastating effects of this powerful opioid drug. The Biden administration and relevant agencies have been called upon to provide more information on their efforts and progress in combating the use of cryptocurrency by drug cartels in trafficking fentanyl.

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