Press Releases

U.S. House Approves Herrera Beutler Backed Bipartisan Bill to Help Seal Underground Drug Tunnels at Southern Border

Herrera Beutler spoke in support of the DHS Illicit Cross-Border Tunnel Defense Act on the House Floor

Click here to view Jaime's remarks on the U.S. House Floor.

The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a bipartisan bill backed by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to help U.S. authorities shut down illegal underground tunnels used by cartels to smuggle drugs and conduct human trafficking underneath the southern border.

The DHS Illicit Cross-Border Tunnel Defense Act authorizes Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to develop a plan and remediate illegal underground tunnels underneath the U.S.-Mexico border. It also directs CBP to develop and report to Congress a plan to improve operations in the effort to seal these illegal tunnels.

“The bill I helped advance for House consideration today would help Border Patrol shut down these illegal underground tunnels used by cartels to smuggle drugs and conduct human trafficking underneath our southern border. This is a commonsense, and very necessary step to slow the trafficking of drugs and human beings which is being felt not just along the border states, but in Southwest Washington state and across this country,” Herrera Beutler said during her remarks on the U.S. House Floor.

Increases of fentanyl, other illicit drugs, in Southwest Washington

In 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration outlined in a report that the Pacific Northwest has been flooded with illicit drugs by drug traffickers via the I-5 corridor.

Jaime recently met with the Lewis County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET), who reported that about 95% of the drugs they’ve confiscated, including fentanyl, have originated from Mexico. They also report seizing 81 pounds of fentanyl in 2021 – up 380% from the year prior.

2 mg of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose. One pound of fentanyl is deadly enough to kill about 225,000 people, which means the 81 pounds of fentanyl seized in 2021 by the Lewis County JNET is enough to kill every Lewis County resident approximately 221 times over.

Underground tunnels along the border

Last year, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents found a 183-foot long subterranean tunnel near the international border. Cardell T. Morant, a special agent in charge of HIS San Diego said, “these types of tunnels enable drug traffickers to conduct illicit activities virtually undetected across the U.S.–Mexico border. Discovering and shutting down these tunnels deals a major blow to drug trafficking organizations because it denies them the ability to smuggle drugs, weapons, and people across the border.”