Chuck targets China fentanyl producers
Sen. Chuck Schumer announced new legislation Sunday to crack down on fentanyl producers in China, the world’s largest exporter of the lethal synthetic drug.
The bill aims to impose economic sanctions on China and other countries that have turned a blind eye to companies and traffickers producing fentanyl, the senator said.
“They do a lot of things, but they don’t enforce any laws [around fentanyl],” Schumer said of the Chinese government. “The problem is enforcement. Sanctions are the toughest thing we have. They not only prevent anyone who’s affiliated with these companies from coming to America, but they also can freeze their assets around the world.”
Fentanyl overdoses accounted for 2,238 deaths in New York State in 2017 — a 36% increase from 2016, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last week, federal officials seized 254 pounds of the drug at an Arizona port, the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history.
Schumer (photo) plans to introduce the bill as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top U.S. officials are set to head to China for high-level trade talks this week.
“Essentially, this plays into the upcoming talks as they’ll be meeting to discuss issues of trade,” said Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro. “Exporting illicit fentanyl and producing illicit fentanyl is a relevant topic to any meeting regarding trade [with China].”
Chinese pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers are responsible for an estimated 90% of the world’s fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin.
China agreed to classify fentanyl as a controlled substance following pressure from the U.S. at the the G-20 summit in Argentina in December — but Schumer says the country has not taken enough steps to crack down on the drug.
The U.S. imposed similar sanctions in 2015 against Chinese producers of flakka, a synthetic stimulant with deadly side effects. Those sanctions led to a decline in overdose deaths from the drug.