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