Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, addressed on Thursday associate attorney general nominee Vanita Gupta’s stake in her family company that reportedly sold chemicals in Mexico that drug cartels used for heroin production.
Gupta was marked up in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, with Republican senators taking aim at the president’s nominee.
Avantor, which pays some employees less than $1.50 an hour, reportedly sold acetic anhydride, which Mexican cartels used to make high-grade heroin and methamphetamine – something Cornyn was quick to point out on Thursday.
Cornyn brought a poster of a “17-liter jug of acetic anhydride” with him to the markup, pointing out the chemical is “manufactured by Aventor through its wholly-owned subsidiary J.T. Baker in Mexico.”
“This is an essential ingredient in producing heroin from poppies. From opium,” said Cornyn, who pointed to a Bloomberg report on the company.
According to Cornyn, a single container of acetic anhydride can go for “$3.6 million” on the black market and “can produce up to [90,000] hits of heroin.” Cornyn said the normal market value for a similar jug of acetic anhydride sells for $324.
“It’s well-known that Mexican authorities as far back as 2010 have found jugs of acetic anhydride manufactured by Aventor at drug labs like this one depicted in Sinaloa, Mexico,” said Cornyn.
“Ms. Gupta was asked about her knowledge of the diversion of this precursor manufactured by Aventor, and she said, ‘well, I’m familiar with the allegations made against Aventor for selling this precursor drug in Mexico,” the Texas senator said, pointing out that all sales of the potent chemical in the U.S. are “tracked” by the government.
Cornyn said he agreed with Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that many of Gupta’s previous answers from her testimony were “misleading and deceptive” and blasted Biden’s nominee as having “frankly lied” about her position on drug legalization.
“When I asked her during a testimony – because I had read a piece she had written in HuffPost in 2012 – whether she supported the decriminalization of all drugs, not just marijuana,” Cornyn said. “And she said, ‘no senator, I do not.’ That’s a direct quote, and answer to my question.”
The Texas senator pointed out that the answer Gupta gave was different than her HuffPost article, putting up a new poster with a quote from the DOJ nominee.
“States should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs,” wrote Gupta in 2012.
Avantor stopped selling the chemical after the Bloomberg report was published in August of last year.
Senate Republicans have signaled that they are not willing to give their vote to Gupta to join the DOJ.
“Her public record is too extreme and her testimony hasn’t helped me contextualize it in any meaningful way,” Grassley said on Thursday.
The senators allege in the letter that Gupta “misled” the group in four areas: “(1) Her support for eliminating qualified immunity; (2) her support for decriminalizing all drugs; (3) her support for defunding the police; and (4) her death penalty record.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.