China dis­putes US claim it’s a top source of syn­thetic drugs

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

US as­ser­tions that China is the top source of the syn­thetic opi­oids that have killed thou­sands of drug users in the US and Canada are un­sub­stan­ti­ated, Chi­nese of­fi­cials told the As­so­ci­ated Press. Both the US Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the White House Of­fice of Na­tional Drug Con­trol Pol­icy point to China as North Amer­ica’s main source of fen­tanyl, re­lated drugs and the chem­i­cals used to make them.

Such state­ments “lack the sup­port of suf­fi­cient num­bers of ac­tual, con­firmed cases,” China’s Na­tional Nar­cotics Con­trol Com­mis­sion told DEA’s Bei­jing field of­fice in a fax dated Fri­day. In its let­ter to the DEA, which the com­mis­sion also sent to AP, Chi­nese of­fi­cials urged the US to pro­vide more ev­i­dence about China’s role as a source coun­try. It’s a point the state-run China Daily news­pa­per drove home pub­licly in an ar­ti­cle this month stat­ing that made-in-China car­fen­tanil was not the cause of over­dose deaths in the US.

DEA of­fi­cials said their case­work and in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­sis­tently lead back to China. DEA data also shows that when China reg­u­lates syn­thetic drugs, US seizures plunge. “China is not the only source of the prob­lem, but they are the dom­i­nant source for fen­tanyls along with pre­cur­sor chem­i­cals and pill presses that are be­ing ex­ported from China to the US, Canada and Mex­ico,” said Russell Baer, a DEA spe­cial agent in Wash­ing­ton.

Bei­jing is con­cerned enough about in­ter­na­tional per­cep­tions of China’s role in the opi­oid trade that af­ter AP pub­lished in­ves­ti­ga­tions high­light­ing the easy avail­abil­ity of fen­tanyls on­line from Chi­nese sup­pli­ers, the nar­cotics com­mis­sion made a rare in­vi­ta­tion to a team of AP jour­nal­ists to dis­cuss the is­sue at the pow­er­ful Min­istry of Public Se­cu­rity, a leafy com­plex just off Tianan­men Square at the his­toric and po­lit­i­cal heart of Bei­jing. They also pro­vided re­sponses, in writ­ing, to AP’s ques­tions.

US-China co­op­er­a­tion is es­sen­tial for mount­ing an ef­fec­tive global re­sponse to an epi­demic of opi­oid abuse that has killed more than 300,000 Amer­i­cans since 2000. The pres­ence of fen­tanyl, a pre­scrip­tion painkiller up to 50 times stronger than heroin, and re­lated com­pounds in the US drug sup­ply be­gan to rise in 2013, af­ter deal­ers learned they could mul­ti­ply prof­its by cut­ting the po­tent chem­i­cals into heroin, co­caine and coun­ter­feit pre­scrip­tion pills. — AP

VAN­COU­VER: In this June 27, 2016 file photo pro­vided by the Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice, mem­bers of the RCMP go through a de­con­tam­i­na­tion pro­ce­dure in Van­cou­ver af­ter in­ter­cept­ing a pack­age con­tain­ing ap­prox­i­mately 1 kilo­gram of the pow­er­ful opi­oid car­fen­tanil im­ported from China. — AP

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