Chuck tar­gets China fen­tanyl pro­duc­ers

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY CLAYTON GUSE

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.

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