The US is finally moving to halt the mass importation of synthetic fentanyl—an opioid which killed more than 27,000 Americans in 2017 alone—after it emerged that there are almost no controls over the shipping of the drug to north America via ordinary mail.
According to an article in the Asia Times, US President Donald Trump has signed into law new legislation to address the problem and the US Department of Justice hosted its first “National Opioid Summit” on October 25, with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivering the keynote address.
Trump also moved to eliminate a loophole that has previously enabled Chinese drug dealers and distributors to mail their drugs into the US without giving details on either the sender or the contents of the package, the article said.
“A growing number of US politicians agree that it is now time to take the necessary steps to ensure the arrest and punishment of people working in Chinese drug labs and operating huge distribution channels that lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans,” the Asia Times continued.
As well as the steps being taken by the Trump administration to address the problem, New Jersey Congressman Jeff Smith (R), who chairs the Global Health Subcommittee, has introduced legislation aimed directly at China. Smith is making it clear that further Congressional action is urgently needed to get Beijing to exercise more control over its huge underground industry.
China has failed to address the problem in any “meaningful and effective way,” and Smith is “by no means the lone voice on Capitol Hill attempting to hold both government officials in China and Chinese private citizens accountable.”
“Synthetic fentanyl produced in China and exported to the US is ravaging our communities,” Smith said in a statement “Although China would like to shirk responsibility and call this a purely a demand-driven phenomenon, the fact is Beijing is not doing enough to stop the supply.
“The recent proliferation of synthetic opioids like fentanyl has driven a sharp increase in overdose deaths, impacting Americans of all walks of life. In New Jersey, we have the highest opioid overdose death rate among all states for individuals 35 or younger. And fentanyl produced in China is helping drive the epidemic.”
This legislation calls for the creation of “a joint effort by the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury to identify each person and government official in China involved in fentanyl production and trafficking into the US. Once identified, those persons can be sanctioned by the US under such policies as the Global Magnitsky Act.”
“Are we using existing tools to hold bad actors in China accountable? We have tools, such as the (Act), which targets corrupt officials and human rights abusers. Perhaps it is time we start thinking outside the box and use something like Global Magnitsky to ensure that corrupt Chinese officials and narco-traffickers are held to account,” Smith said.
Recent US Justice Department indictments involving Chinese citizens from places such as Wuhan and Shanghai are ample evidence that China is not doing enough to solve the problem.
“China is one of the world’s top producers of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine and fentanyl, as well as the chemicals used to process heroin and cocaine,” Paul Knierim, the Deputy Chief of Operations at the Office of Global Enforcement for the DEA, was quoted as saying.