(NewsNation) — The federal government is announcing a new joint lab to track drugs seized along the southern border and trace them back to individual cartels.
The lab will be set up at the El Paso Intelligence Center in Fort Bliss, Texas, and will be led by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
This new lab will give officials the ability to test for fentanyl as soon as it gets seized and determine who is responsible for making it. It will also help in keeping a lookout for any potential new synthetic drugs.
Federal officials say more than 110,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, with many of those deaths involving fentanyl.
The DEA says fentanyl is now the number one killer of Americans 18 to 45 years old.
DEA administrator Anne Milgram spoke to members of Congress at the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing about the agency’s newest efforts in combatting drug trafficking at the southern border. Milgram said the Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco New Generation are responsible for mass-producing fentanyl in Mexico with chemicals imported from China.
“We are tracking these cartels in over 40 countries around the world…the entire supply chain,” Milgram told the subcommittee.
After the U.S. government arrested Sinaloa cartel drug lord “El Chapo,” his sons have taken over the cartel and transformed it into a fentanyl manufacturing and exporting operation, according to the DEA.
Federal officials tell lawmakers they are concerned with Mexican cartels’ tactics of using social media to lure young Americans into buying pressed pills like Vicodin, not knowing that they are laced with fentanyl, in order to be more addictive and have the customer coming back for more.