Murkowski Raises Concern Over Alarming Flow of Fentanyl into Alaska, Native Communities During Senate Hearings

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) raised the alarm over the rise of fentanyl flowing into communities across Alaska and Indian Country during Senate hearings on Capitol Hill yesterday.            

During a Senate Appropriations hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Senator Murkowski noted that the emergency at the southern border is exacerbating the opioid crisis impacting the entire country—and called for meaningful support for border security. Murkowski stated the need for even incremental gains to reform of broken border policies, including supporting efforts to strengthen the United States’ northern border. Murkowski also pointed out that this isn’t exclusive to our southern border – America’s northern border saw hundreds of individuals on the terrorist watchlist attempt to enter the U.S., and an increased flow of fentanyl to Alaska.

Click here to watch Senator Murkowski’s statement at the Senate Appropriations hearing.

Key takeaways on improving border security:

  • “We have got to do more to demonstrate to the people in this country, that our borders are safe, and that our borders are secure… The people of this country are not feeling secure. They are not feeling secure about our own borders.”
  • “[Alaska is] a long way from the southern border. But I will tell you that looking at the numbers that we see coming across our northern border, and the number of those on the terrorist watch list—what we're seeing almost 500 individuals on the terrorist watch list attempting to enter the U.S. at Northern Border points of entry.”

Key takeaways on the flow of fentanyl into Native communities:

  • “We are looking at a situation right now, where our smallest of small native villages are receiving amounts of fentanyl that are breathtaking in their scope.”
  • “130 pounds of fentanyl in the last 15 months coming in to Alaska into communities as small as Savoonga and Tyonek.
  • “We have got to look really critically at what is happening to our Native American Alaskan Native population with fentanyl.”

Later that day during a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs oversight hearing, Vice Chairman Murkowski noted that small villages across Alaska are seeing a dangerous increase in deaths caused by drug overdoses, and referred to recent reporting by the Anchorage Daily News on the flow of fentanyl into Native communities in Alaska. In Savoonga alone, a community of just 826 people, 1,877 grams of fentanyl were found.

Click here to watch Vice Chairman Murkowski’s statement at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing.

Key takeaways from the SCIA hearing:

  • “We know the numbers, and we know that Native Americans and Alaska Natives as a population demographically are dying of drug overdoses more than any other population over the past two years.”
  • “I'm looking at the situation in communities like Tyonek, Savoonga, Dillingham—tiny little Native communities that are so far off the grid. Most people don't even know that they exist and yet, the drugs are coming in and they're killing people.”
  • “We need this data. We need to understand how it is moving so rapidly. I think we all recognize that we've gotten to be doing more when it comes to treatment, but we're dealing with a drug. The lethality of which is almost incomprehensible for most people…We've got a challenge that is so big and so enormous.”