Senator Cornyn

Cornyn Targets Gupta Over Ties to Firm Linked to Mexican Narcotics Trade

March 24, 2021

WASHINGTON – Today on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed the ties of Vanita Gupta, nominee to be Associate Attorney General, to the firm Avantor, which sells a chemical that has been linked to the illicit drug trade in Mexico. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video can be found here.

“A Bloomberg report last year brought… to light the fact that chemicals made in the United States by U.S. companies were key ingredients in the manufacture of heroin in Mexico.”

“One of those companies is Avantor, a Fortune 500 company that supplies lab materials and services across a number of industries. But the focus here is on one particular chemical: acetic anhydride.”

“Without this chemical, it’s virtually impossible to transform opium from a poppy seed into the more lethal drug of heroin. One container of this chemical costs $324. The street value of the heroin that it will yield is at least $3.6 million.”

“The nominee for the third highest-ranking position at the Department of Justice has profited to the tune of millions of dollars from Avantor stock.”

“Vanita Gupta has been nominated to serve as the Associate Attorney General and she is a very large shareholder in this publicly traded company. This isn’t just a blind investment in a mutual fund, this is the family business. Ms. Gupta’s father is Avantor’s Chairman of the Board.”

“The Department of Justice is the highest law enforcement agency in the country and Ms. Gupta has been nominated to serve as third in command. If confirmed, she would oversee the Civil Division, which will make major decisions about who will be investigated, who will be charged and who will face punishment. Some of those potential targets include opioid companies, drug manufacturers, or perhaps even companies that are diverting precursor chemicals to the cartels.”

“The Department requires professional detachment from even the appearance of impropriety and this conflict of interest of Ms. Gupta’s goes far beyond simple appearance. Ms. Gupta has financially benefited from the sale of this chemical to cartels in Mexico.”

“As a result, any case that has a nexus to drugs brought by the Department of Justice while she’s at the helm will have a giant cloud cast over it.”

“I cannot support the nomination of Ms. Gupta to serve as Associate Attorney General and I would urge all of my colleagues to oppose her nomination as well.”