U.S. law enforcement, intelligence, and military officials have determined that China is the primary source of the illegal use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl fueling the deadly drug overdose epidemic gripping the United States, but Beijing claimed this week that China has nothing to do with the crisis.
“Two drug-control officials at China’s Ministry of Public Security noted that the US would do better examining its domestic failure to handle the problem than blaming China,” the state-run Global Times reports.
“They stressed that China is the country with the strictest control over fentanyl in the world and has never exported any fentanyl of any variety or dosage form to the US,” the outlet adds.
The officials argued that Chinese “outlaws,” not the Beijing government, is involved in the illicit fentanyl trade.
Referring to “several cases of illegal processing and smuggling of fentanyl-related substances have indeed been discovered in China,” the officials added:
In these cases, at the request of drug dealers from the US, UK and other foreign countries, some specific outlaws developed and processed varieties of fentanyl that were not regulated by the Chinese government at that time and then smuggled them out of China by postal delivery services. They are the key targets of China’s anti-drug law enforcement authorities.
Chinese-produced illegal fentanyl, trafficked across the U.S.-Mexico border and shipped through official mail carriers, was the number one driver behind the unprecedented 72,287 people killed by drug overdose in the United States in 2017, the latest year for which data is available.
The illegal use of opioids, including heroin (15,950 deaths) and synthetic drugs like fentanyl (29,418), killed more people (about 49,000) than terrorist attacks (26,400) across the globe in 2017, Breitbart News determined using U.S. government data.
The opioid crisis reduced the average American’s life expectancy to 78.6 years in 2016.
U.S. President Donald Trump has declared illegal Chinese fentanyl flooding the United States and drug overdoses as a whole a national security threat.
Trump has also declared a public health emergency over the number of fatal drug overdoses. The president has cited fentanyl and other drugs flowing across the U.S.-Mexico border when arguing in favor of the national emergency he recently declared to get funding for a southern border wall.
Considered to be at least 50 times stronger than heroin, fentanyl is so deadly that some experts have warned terrorists could use it as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).
According to the American government, China is the leading source of illegal fentanyl in the United States. However, Yu Haibin (Yu), a senior officer at the China National Narcotics Control Commission (NNCC), told Global Times: “According to the International Narcotics Control Board, the US is the world’s largest manufacturer and consumer of fentanyl.”
The United Nations-linked narcotics board does name the U.S. as the largest consumer, manufacturer, and one of the top exporters of fentanyl in the world in 2016, noting that there are legal uses for the drug. Like other opioids, fentanyl is used in the medical field. There are no exact estimates for the amount of illicit fentanyl produced in the world given the illegal nature of the trade.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), illegal fentanyl seized and analyzed in the United States reached 960 kilograms in 2017.
During their interview with Global Times, the Chinese officials blamed drug addiction, greed by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, and “liberalism” for fentanyl abuse in the United States, exculpating China of any responsibility for the availability of the drug in the United States.
“Liberalism prevails in the US and taking drugs is related to labels like ‘freedom,’ ‘being particular,’ and ‘liberation.’ The US government has not promoted the harm of drug abuse,” Yu claimed.
The official noted the absence “any large-scale fentanyl abuse cases or death caused by fentanyl-related substances” in China.
U.S. law enforcement entities, the intelligence community, and the American military have named China the top source of fentanyl in the United States.
“Illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids — primarily sourced from China and Mexico—are now the most lethal category of opioids used in the United States,” the DEA declares in its latest Drug Threat Assessment.
“Another challenge that affects the security environment indirectly is the continuing fentanyl and opioid crisis in the United States. Illicit fentanyl, as well as legal pre-cursor chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs primarily, originate from China,” the commander for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) adds.
Referring to Latin American drug smugglers, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) commander also notes:
In addition to cocaine, traffickers also transport heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and precursor chemicals from China. While Mexico remains the primary source for heroin smuggled into the U.S. (and China the prime source of fentanyl), the Dominican Republic is emerging as a regional transit point for opioid trafficking into major U.S. cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and Miami.
“Chinese synthetic drug suppliers dominate US-bound movements of so-called designer drugs, including synthetic marijuana, and probably ship the majority of US fentanyl, when adjusted for purity,” the U.S. intelligence community also points out in its latest World Threat Assessment.
The Chinese officials and the DEA conceded that China is working to reduce the flow of fentanyl into the United States.
“It would take only 118 pounds of fentanyl to kill 25 million people,” Bloomberg reported in December.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced sanction legislation to “hold China accountable” over the influx of fentanyl in the United States.