U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer was in Rochester Tuesday to announce his support for a bill that would boost federal resources in the fight against opioid use.
The New York Democrat, speaking at the Monroe County Crime Lab, said the concern is mainly with Fentanyl, a drug that is legal when prescribed for severe pain, but often illicitly manufactured and brought into the country from China and Mexico.
Fentanyl use has been on the rise in the Rochester and Finger Lakes area.
"During a 2 month period last year this crime lab analyzed 120 items that held pure fentanyl. That was just in 2 months last year. In 2015, do you know how many they found the whole year? 4."
The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act, or INTERDICT Act, calls for an increase in screening facilities and laboratory machinery for testing for fentanyl at borders. The drug is so new that many border agencies can’t adequately test for it currently.
Schumer said the best defense against the flow of opioids into the country is tracking where the drugs are coming from.
"They can actually look at the chemical. And each one is slightly different, like our fingerprints are slightly different. So they can actually tell that this load of fentanyl is different from this load and this load."
The INTERDICT Act, which Schumer says has bipartisan support, also calls for more scientists and border patrol personnel at the borders.