(The Center Square) – A trip to the Arizona southern border earlier this year prompted an Ohio lawmaker to push for tougher drug and human trafficking laws in the state.
Rep. Cindy Abrams, R-Harrison, told fellow representatives miles and miles of open border allow illegal drugs and cartel criminals to enter the country.
“The Southeastern Arizona Border Region Enforcement Team, also known as the SABRE Team, took us to a place on the top of a mountain where we watched the cartel and saw them watching us,” Abrams, a former Cincinnati police officer, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee. “I saw the cartel preparing numerous people dressed in full camouflage, many times armed, carrying backpacks full of as much fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine they could carry.”
That experience, she said, led to the introduction of House Bill 230, which would increase trafficking charges for cocaine, fentanyl-related compounds, heroin and meth. It would also raise the charges for human trafficking to a first-degree felony and expand the definition of human trafficking.
It would add a specification that if someone is found or pleads guilty to a fentanyl-related death, there would be a mandatory prison term of five years.
Abrams said that in 2021 Ohio experienced 4,209 deaths from drug overdose, and 454 people died due to fentanyl poisoning in Hamilton County.
“We are looking forward to continuing to work with our law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as this committee on this important legislation to keep our communities safe,” Abrams testified. “It is crucial that we take steps to protect our children and greater communities from the current drug and human trafficking epidemics.”
If the bill becomes law, all death certificates in Ohio would include a space to indicate if the death was due to fentanyl poisoning.
Abrams specified the bill was not an immigration bill but a potential law aimed at criminals.
“This is not about people that want to come here legally, to pursue the American Dream,” Abrams said. “We are not talking about the people that jump the wall or get caught being smuggled in at the ports of entry. These are criminals that smuggle these dangerous drugs into our country with no regard for human life.”