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June 23, 2023

King, Cornyn Introduce Bill to Fight Maine’s Opioid Epidemic with DoD Training for Mexican Military

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and John Cornyn (R-Texas) have introduced a bipartisan bill to address America’s epidemic of illegal drugs by improving Mexico’s military capabilities to take on drug cartels. The Partnership for Advancing Regional Training and Narcotics Enforcement Response Strategies (PARTNERS) Act would allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to train Mexican military forces in counter-drug tactics to stop cartels in Mexico from transporting illegal drugs across the border and into the United States.

Every day, families across our country lose loved ones to the devastating epidemic of illegal drugs. This is an urgent crisis that needs to be addressed from every possible angle – especially by stopping drugs before they enter the country,” said Senator King. “The United States is fortunate to have the most skilled, dedicated, and effective military professionals in the world. Allowing our military to train Mexican forces in counter-drug operations is a commonsense, cost-effective way to take on the criminal organizations who are responsible for many of America’s tragic drug overdoses. I appreciate Senator Cornyn’s partnership on this bill and hope we can get it passed urgently to start saving lives.”  

“The United States and Mexico must work together to put a stop to the cartel violence and drugs ravaging communities on both sides of our shared border,” said Senator Cornyn. “This bill would equip Mexican military forces with the training they need to help them confront murderous cartels and keep our countries safe and secure.”

The PARTNERS Act would create a military-to-military pilot program through the DOD to bring Mexican military forces to the U.S. to receive tactical training that they can employ in Mexico to counter transnational criminal organizations (TCO), including cartels, weapons dealers, drug traffickers, and human smugglers.

Senator King has made combating the opioid crisis one of his highest priorities in Washington. In the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, King secured significant investments to improve drug shipment interdiction, an area where he has long called for more resources. In the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, he secured new federal investments in our nation’s response to the ongoing opioid and substance use disorder (SUD) epidemic. He also secured nearly $1 million for SUD treatment for Maine through the American Rescue Plan.

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