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4th District Congressman Jim Himes recently returned from a visit to the Republic of Colombia and Panama where he met with government officials and United States support staff working to end the drug trade and associated violence in South and Central America as well as the United States. 

Himes also visited the Venezuelan border with Colombia.  Himes says instability in Venezuela has helped contribute to the strength of the drug market and cartels as well as ease the flow of drugs into Mexico and, subsequently, the United States.  In 2018, more than 2,000 tons of cocaine came out of Colombia, which accounts for more than 70% of the world supply. It’s estimated that the number of cocaine users in the United States has risen by 40% between 2014 and 2017. During the same period, deaths from cocaine increased 160%. 

Himes noted that it's not just cocaine coming into the US through shipping containers and fast boats; it’s also Fentanyl, which is deadly on its own and sometimes cut into cocaine.