While US law enforcement has often pointed the finger toward Chinese suppliers, a new federal government report confirms that
China’s “weakly regulated and poorly monitored” pharmaceutical industry is at fault for the Fentanyl epidemic in US states like Florida and Ohio. The U.S.- China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report explains  that Chinese pharmaceutical companies are mass producing the dangerous drug and shipping it into America.

In the past, Chinese suppliers have also been caught providing raw drugs, equipment and the machinery necessary for the assembly-line production to illicit US drug operations. For many years, these drugs were found in illegal online pharmacies as well as “pill mill” operations across the US. Because of the willingness of pharmaceutical companies, Chinese connections also allows local drug dealers in North America to mass produce Fentanyl in pill form.

Illegal Fentanyl pills have often misprinted to look like Xanax and Oxycodone, which causes users to overdose. This is especially dangerous to user because fentanyl is known to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Last year, a wave of overdoses in the Sacramento area that caused at least nine deaths was blamed on misprinted fentanyl pills. Law enforcement have found illegal pill factories in Seattle, Syracuse, and British Columbia.

The report also highlights the difficulties faced by United States law enforcement companies when it comes to catching and halting illegal shipments. “Avoiding detection has become so simple that many Chinese narcotics distributors will guarantee customers a second shipment if the first is seized by law enforcement,” the report explains, stressing that law enforcement needs to “enhance cooperation” with Chinese counterparts to help curb flow of drugs.

Senator Rob Portman, one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, introduced the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act that to last year as a solution to the illegal influx. The bill meant to close gaps in the US Postal Service electronic customs data, “requiring shipments from foreign countries through our postal system to provide electronic advance data – such as who and where it is coming from, who it’s going to, where it is going, and what’s in it – before they enter the United States.  This will enable Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to better target potential illegal packages and keep these dangerous drugs from ending up in the hands of drug traffickers who want to harm our local communities.”

The legislation did not pass last session, but the new report may add fuel to future legislation that can help curb the import of Fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids from overseas.

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