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Fentanyl Precursors from China and the American Opioid Epidemic

By Septiembre 27, 2021Enero 28th, 2023No Comments

“You just have to be able to run a business and take advantage of modern technology.” While stricter regulation has not wiped out the fentanyl-related industry in China, it has made it more difficult for illicit vendors to operate. Potential clients could inspect grainy snapshots of nondescript powders and pills on Facebook. Occasionally, Chen replied directly to loyal customers, even paying for a Lyft ride to the hospital as compensation when one customer complained he had overdosed on Chen’s product.

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement official posted in China.
  • The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
  • Illicit fentanyl accounted for over 64,000 of those deaths, which has doubled since 2019.
  • After all, the solution is multifaceted and goes well beyond cutting off the supply of a certain drug.
  • Over 6 days in late August 2016, Hamilton County saw 176 drug overdoses, primarily from carfentanil, the coroner’s office says.

The salesperson said the company also sold a banned fentanyl precursor, at $1,100 a kilogram. Access to the Internet gives even small-time sellers in China transnational reach to market and ship their potent products. “The customer has the responsibility to guarantee the compound is legal where the receiving address is,” the salesperson said. But when NPR visited the company in November 2019, the salesperson confirmed it still sold “99918,” which is code for a popular fentanyl precursor, according to C4ADS analysts, and was banned in China in 2018. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration notes that the detected amount of Chinese fentanyl shipments has dropped dramatically since the ban.

Crime labs keep autoinjectors of naloxone, the lifesaving opioid receptor antagonist, within reach in case their personnel are accidentally exposed to synthetic opiates. More Chinese vendors are moving to password-protected websites, where access is given only to trusted customers. They are moving away from public social media accounts, for security reasons and because many companies, including Instagram and Reddit, have implemented rules that make it harder for illicit drug vendors to operate. Chen’s Facebook accounts were shut down last year, but he has created a new account. This year, the coronavirus pandemic temporarily paralyzed the trade. Many ingredients behind synthetic opioids are made in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus was first discovered and which authorities completely locked down for more than two months.

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XINGTAI, China — An online pharmacy advertising itself as a seller of “high purity, real pure” fentanyl still responds right away to potential customers. Potential solutions for slowing that flow of chemicals from China range from improving Chinese shipping procedures to prevent deliberate mislabeling of compounds to tighter regulatory scrutiny of Chinese chemical producers and distributors. The response from Chinese chemical producers and exporters underscores the challenges of regulatory fixes that don’t keep up with the ability of the industry to skirt those laws.

china bans fentanyl

The epidemic requires changing the way opioids are prescribed. Control, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Fentanyl is cheap, easily synthesized in a lab and more addictive than heroin. That means the financial rewards will remain high enough to entice those willing to break the law, especially in a large and poorly regulated chemical industry like China’s. China’s new focus on shutting down the trade has meant shipments of fentanyl to the United States have declined significantly in the last year, according to Chinese officials, citing figures from the United States Customs and Border Protection agency.

“There seems to be a lot of political wind pushing back now , saying we’re not going to do anything unilaterally ,” Pardo said. Unusually, the Chinese criticism of lax U.S. regulatory controls on synthetic opioids strikes a bipartisan chord on Capitol Hill. Portman and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) last year sought to require the Drug Enforcement Agency to permanently schedule fentanyl-related compounds with their co-sponsoring of the FIGHT Fentanyl Act. The DEA’s estimate of “millions of dollars in profit” from street sales derived from a kilogram of Chinese-sourced fentanyl powder that cost “a few thousand dollars” applies equally to the new market for synthetic opioid component chemicals. Such sales are a lucrative enticement for a Chinese chemical manufacturing sector battered by the economic impact of the pandemic. The amount of finished fentanyl shipped from China to the United States has declined since 2019 when Beijing banned the synthetic drug.

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Customs, seizures of fentanyl in San Diego are up 323 percent from 2019 to 2022, an increase which is attributed to the growing involvement of Mexican drug cartels in the fentanyl trade. Insufficient enforcement and regulatory gaps in China are making it worse, but the United States could do more to reduce demand for opioids as well as drug users’ exposure to these powerful drugs. Given China’s recent decision to ban the unauthorized manufacture of fentanyl, authorities there appear to recognize a growing problem. China might have more success dealing with it if it worried more about independent oversight and regulatory adherence rather than banning the production of specific substances. Broad controls on fentanyl may have unintended consequences, shaping the drug market by pushing the development of chemicals that fall outside of the law. Fentanyl is not prohibited in China—only its unauthorized manufacture and handling is.

This summer, the authorities in Virginia seized 30 kilograms of fentanyl, enough “to kill over 14 million people,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. The fentanyl was ordered from a vendor in Shanghai in April of last year. Even so, the steps China has taken to reduce the flow of fentanyl are real, according to experts and officials on both sides of the Pacific. Others appeared to have shut down their operations, disconnecting numbers which had previously reached salespeople offering to mail the drugs to the United States — no questions asked.

Fentanyl drug traffickers are sentenced in court last year in Xingtai in northeast China’s Hebei province. The court sentenced at least nine fentanyl traffickers in a case that was the culmination of a rare collaboration between Chinese and U.S. law enforcement to crack down on global networks that manufacture and distribute lethal synthetic opioids. In April, the Chinese government moved to plug those legal holes. It announced it would place all variants of fentanyl — as a class — on the list of controlled substances, rather than individually adding each new version of the drug to the banned list after it had hit the streets. With the export controls that are applied to drugs on the list, the fentanyl variants that had fallen into the legal gray area before were now explicitly banned from being sold abroad. China has some of the strictest drug laws in the world, allowing capital punishment against major producers and traffickers.

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“The growing involvement of Mexican cartels and advanced money laundering schemes have exacerbated the problem”, the report said. Chinese traffickers are increasing their cooperation with Mexican cartels, and especially the two biggest crime syndicates, the Sinaloa cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel. college alcoholism and binge drinking “China’s weak supervision and regulation of its chemical and pharmaceutical industry also enable evasion and circumvention,” the report said. Chinese cooperation also “lags in money laundering investigations, criminal prosecution, and legal assistance in ongoing cases”, the advisory body added.

The accused ringleader received a suspended death sentence; two others were sentenced to life in prison. Successful bilateral cooperation in combating the fentanyl flow peaked in May 2019 when Xi responded to U.S. pressure by making all forms of fentanyl subject to production controls and anti-trafficking measures. That prompted a drastic reduction in direct shipments of fentanyl and related compounds from China. “China’s critically involved in the 64,000 deaths we had because they are pretty much the lone supplier of precursor chemicals and pre-precursor chemicals, which they are shipping to Mexico,” said Rep. David Trone (D-Md.), the commission’s co-chair. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration believes Chinese traffickers have shifted from mainly manufacturing finished fentanyl to mostly exporting precursors to Mexican cartels, which make illicit fentanyl and deliver the final product.

china bans fentanyl

Broad controls may have unintended consequences, shaping the drug market by pushing the development of chemicals that fall outside of the law. Officials from three Chinese agencies, including the Ministry of Public Security, announced the change at a news conference that included representatives from foreign embassies, including the American Embassy. As before, however, the officials denied that China was causing the scourge of fentanyl-related deaths in the United States, saying the blame lay there. But the ban does not cover all of the precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl and its analogues, according to a spokesman for Mr. Trump’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

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Negotiators met in Beijing last week to continue hashing out an agreement and are scheduled to meet in Washington again on Thursday and Friday. It is also possible that other countries without similar bans may try to fill the increased demand for fentanyl. While these are legitimate concerns, it is still likely that the amount of fentanyl entering how to stop drinking alcohol without aa or rehab the United States will decrease as a result of this ban. needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. Included in the bill is the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act, which aims at curbing the flow of opioids sent through the mail system, and increases the coordination between the U.S.

Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world’s media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers. RAND research raises concerns that China’s ban on fentanyl analogs won’t stem the flow of these substances that are claiming so many lives. China recently announced it would ban substances that mimic fentanyl, typically referred to as fentanyl “analogs.” This is encouraging.

Other substances on sale included a sometimes deadly synthetic opioid also known as “pink,” and synthetic cannabinoids. The PRC authorities cooperated with the US government to restrict production of fentanyl and precursors by listing more precursors as controlled substances and jointly investigating trafficking. By mid-2022, the Ministry of Public Security claimed that China has the strictest drug control measures in the world and the largest number of listed controlled alcoholism & hypoglycemia substances, resulting in all fentanyl and synthetic cannabinoid substances being put under control . The MPS was highly self-congratulatory, releasing data indicating the control of illegal drugs in China, but did not provide any information on the impact of controls on the export of controlled substances. Manufacturers, as well as Chinese organized crime groups, are responsible for the bulk of fentanyl flooding into our country and contributing to the opioid epidemic.

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