WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following joint statement today in response to testimony received in a hearing last week on the need for additional resources to combat narcotics trafficking into the United States and reduce demand:

“During last Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd of United States Southern Command and General Lori J. Robinson of United States Northern Command, illustrated troubling trends in the trafficking of cocaine and heroin into our nation from their areas of responsibility. Their testimony illustrates how artificial budget constraints limit our ability to confront this challenge, whether by preventing interdiction by limiting the presence of ships in the Caribbean and South America or inhibiting law enforcement and drug treatment closer to home.

“We are deeply concerned by the opioid crisis in communities across America, driven by Mexican heroin and prescription pain medication at home that will be exacerbated by an increased influx of cocaine from South America in the coming years. The transnational criminal networks that cultivate and move these drugs destroy lives and destabilize the countries they pass through at every stop along their journey. And these groups do more than move drugs, which finance their activities: they corrupt governments, exploit vulnerable people, and could even be used to smuggle those who would do us harm into the United States.

“We cannot successfully combat these epidemics without both reducing demand at home and disrupting the networks moving the supply. Solving the drug epidemic will require a whole of government approach that calls upon law enforcement, the medical community, the diplomatic corps, and our military. As we heard from our military commanders, our armed forces can see a large percentage of trafficking yet are only capable of interdicting a small amount of it. They believe that with relatively modest investments, they can have a significant impact – whether by intercepting drug shipments via Navy ships, offering tailored training to partners in nations like Mexico, or providing situational awareness to law enforcement during routine training near the border. We should be striving to fully fund General Robinson and Admiral Tidd’s requirements to give them the tools necessary to fully protect our citizens from the scourge of drug addiction.”