Voice of America interviewed me about China’s role in the opioid crisis. The video interview will be produced soon.
Here’s the article in Mandarin Chinese:
Here’s a rough English translation, using Google Translate:
New Opium War: China ‘s Fatal Exports
September 6, 2017
Every day, an average of 100 Americans died of opioid overdose. Last month, President Chuanpu announced the country’s entry into the “state of emergency” of opioid abuse. In this “unprecedented” crisis, China is an important part, because most of the synthetic opium drugs, made in China, exported from China, especially the highly toxic fentanyl. Law enforcement officers said there is more and more fentanyl through mail into the United States, to challenge the law enforcement.
Mail order threat
In August, a man named Gregory L. Smith was arrested at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Seattle’s federal prosecutor says Smith is believed to have sent fentanyl from China dozens of times and then sold to other drug traffickers.
New Opium War: China ‘s Fatal Exports
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Illegal fentanyl inflows into the United States through postal and courier channels are increasingly valued by law enforcement agencies. The toxicity of this opioid analgesic is 50 times that of heroin, 100 times the morphine, two milligrams is fatal, is considered to exacerbate the US opium drug abuse crisis, the main factor.
US Department of Disease Control and Prevention in January 2016, a report that the United States in 2014 due to abuse, including fentanyl, including synthetic opium-based material deaths of more than 5500 people, an increase of 79%, 2015 to continue to 72% of the surge in magnitude.
Most of the sources of illicit fentanyl into the United States are in China. Experts say that while Mexican drug syndicates are the main purchasers of fenestan and fentanyl made in China, they fentanyl is mixed with heroin or made into tablets and smuggled into the United States, but more and more fentanyl Online shopping and parcel are flowing into the United States.
“People can place orders and deliver them directly to the door,” says Jeffrey Higgins, a former anti-drug officer at the US Food Service. “They can use UPS and FedEx.”
Robert Perez, Acting Assistant Secretary of the US Customs and Border Protection Agency, said the Customs and Excise Department seized 400 pounds of fentanyl by courier and courier companies in the 2016 fiscal year, and he expects the figure Will rise.
Smith was due to earlier this year by the US post office inspectors found that the package sent to him there is an exception caused by law enforcement officers attention. Investigators intercepted four parcels from China to Smith, which contained 6.5 ounces of fentanyl. Investigators say there are 24 parcels sent to Smith may also contain fentanyl.
However, the law enforcement officers may only intercept the tip of the iceberg. Chinese chemical manufacturers and exporters are always trying to bypass the US chemicals and pharmaceutical regulation.
The Internet plays an important role in the manufacture of illicit fentanyl. A recent report by the US Congress’s US-China Economic and Security Review Committee says that almost all types of chemicals and fentanyl-made goods are available on the Internet at relatively low prices from Chinese manufacturers and are traded The two sides can hide the identity of the transaction process.
Casually on the Internet search, it seems very easy to find the purchase of fentanyl and other synthetic chemicals website. A website called ChingLabs.com said in the company that the plant is located in Henan, China, for the United States, Europe and Australia to provide synthetic marijuana, stimulants, sedatives and new psychoactive substances such as synthetic chemicals.
Law enforcement officers said that the network for the transaction for the dark network, through special software or special authorization to enter, and can hide the user’s server and real identity. These networks usually use the virtual currency like Bitcoin to further cover the traces.
“Dark network, Bitcoin and other issues we have to deal with in the law enforcement process, so that law enforcement is difficult to take the initiative.” An anonymous US undercover officer said.
In addition, Chinese exporters usually do some camouflage when mailing these regulated chemicals to avoid customs inspections. Some of these substances into the silicone bag, and other daily necessities together to send. And some in the packaging deliberately lied to the mail is other goods, such as “spices” and “bath salts.” And these parcels tend to go through layers of transport, so that law enforcement officers are difficult to trace the source of the package.
Perhaps it is very simple to avoid the inspection, ChingLabs.com and other sites claim that if the first package was detained by the customs, they also provide free re-sent service.
Higgins said the difficulty of banning synthetic drugs was that the rate of drug synthesis was very fast. If a substance was to be sorted out, Chinese manufacturers would modify or change the chemical structure of the controlled drug to create a drug Range of new substances.
Higgins said: “They will make new analoges, so you always lag behind.”
For example, after China announced in October 2015 that 116 substances such as fentanyl had been drained, Chinese chemical manufacturers began manufacturing and selling a new substance called fenfen fentanyl. This material was in the United States and China are not belong to the tube material. The United States in September 2016 this material as a class of controlled drugs, China will be in March this year, its tube.
Experts: US-China cooperation in line with the common interests of both sides
The US government has taken steps to strengthen the inspection of incoming mail parcels. The Commission on Combustion Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended the production and sale of fentanyl as one of the topics of US-China high-level diplomacy.
Although the opium drug abuse crisis is mainly in the United States, the problem of drug abuse and drugs is already a global public health problem, and China is difficult to survive, says Li Guohua, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Columbia School of Public Health, who studies drug abuse and prevention. Cooperation is in the common interest of both parties.
He said: “I think the Chinese government is also aware of the seriousness of the problem, because this problem is not only endanger the lives of other countries, not only the issue of public health, health, China’s domestic use of drugs is also rising, Become a very interesting social issue. ”
In June this year, under the urging of the United States, China will be the U-47700 and other four substances included in non-medicinal narcotic drugs and psychotropic drug control varieties added directory. U-47700 was previously a legal fentanyl substitute in China. Three months ago, China also administered four fentanyl analogues of caffeoid, fenofloxacin, acenoprofen, and pentanoyl fentanyl.
US Health Minister Price last month during his visit to China praised China for assistance in combating opium drugs. He said that China is a very good partner.
However, some analysts believe that China should do more. In a report to the president, the president’s warhead told the president that illegal fentanyl was a “serious challenge” for the US response to the opium crisis, and that the United States needed China to pay more potent efforts to cut off fentanyl smuggling.
“They are moving forward, but illegal fentanyl is now not a general public health problem in China, and the demand for their control may not be so strong,” said Katherine Tobin, a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Committee. ”
Higgins said that China can do more. He said that China has a thriving chemical and pharmaceutical industry, their supervision is weak, there are corruption in the government, which can make illegal chemical plants or pharmaceutical groups have an opportunity. He pointed out that for synthetic drugs, although China prohibits some fentanyl substances and precursor chemicals, but the synthesis of drugs analogues and precursors can have hundreds, they may still flow into Mexico or Canada and other places , Was made in fentanyl after the streets of the United States and the hands of American drug addicts.
So is China willing to make more efforts? Higgins believes that the answer is yes.
“China is completely trying to fight this problem,” he said, “and I think that China is doing nothing more than a terrificism to help tackle the global drug problem, because the drug problem is also a big problem in China.”