The spike in deaths connected to illicit fentanyl has prompted Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to ask President Joe Biden to classify the drug as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). Fentanyl is a fast-acting pain reliever that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines a WMD as any nuclear, radiological, chemical, biological, or other device that is intended to harm a large number of people. In a 2018 internal memo, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate said that “fentanyl is very likely a viable option for a chemical weapon attack.”
According to Moody’s office, 77 percent of all teen overdose deaths involved fentanyl. Many of those may be attributed to the use of counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl, coming from Mexican drug cartels, her office said.
In her July 18 letter to Biden, Moody asked the President to designate fentanyl as a WMD under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). As an alternative, she asked that Congress pass the “Fentanyl is a WMD Act.”
“Border patrol has seized enough fentanyl to kill the entire American population many times over,” Moody said about the letter to Biden. “The federal government already works to disrupt the supply chains of other chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons—it’s not hard to imagine that similar tactics could be used to reduce the flow of illicit fentanyl into the U.S. through cartels in Mexico—and save countless American lives.”
According to Moody’s office, 77 percent of all teen overdose deaths in 2020 involved fentanyl. Many of those may be attributed to the use of counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl brought across the southern border by members of Mexican drug cartels, her office said. In addition, an estimated one-third of illicitly manufactured pills are contaminated with fentanyl, and users often have no idea that they are ingesting the lethal substance.
As an alternative to the WMD designation, Moody asked that Biden back Congressional passage of HR 8030, the Fentanyl is a WMD Act.
The Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 13. On June 14, it was referred to the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery for consideration.