China Is The World’s Largest Producer Of Illicit Fentanyl And Currently Lacks The Capacity To Regulate Fentanyl; New Legislation Will Pressure China To Move Forward With An Aggressive Plan And Help U.S. Go After Illicit Traffickers
The bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, expected to pass the Senate early next week.
The bill, written and introduced by Senator Charles Schumer in April, will hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor their commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal.
Additionally, the legislation will provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,” Senator Schumer argues.
“For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking-up formulas of death and freely exporting lethal fentanyl across Upstate New York, and to many other places across America, where it is killing tens-of-thousands of people—and it has to stop. This bill gives our government the tools to enforce sanctions on nations, like China, that are illegally trafficking, and also provides new tools for law enforcement to go after opioid traffickers,” Schumer adds.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
- Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
- Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic opioid traffickers.
- Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.
Schumer explained that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between November 2017 and 2018 roughly 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose in New York State. Additionally, Schumer said that about 1,500 of those opioid overdose deaths were from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
“When it comes to taking genuine action to address this crisis, China continues to kick the can down the road while American lives are kicked to the curb, enveloped by addiction or cut all too short by tragedy. The opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities across the country. In New York State, from November 2017 to 2018, approximately 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose. About 1,500 of those deaths were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. My legislation is critical in this fight to save American lives, and I’m proud to announce that it was included in the NDAA for FY2020 and is expected to pass early next week,” Schumer explained.
Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019.
China has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.
To ensure accountability, the sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries.
Read more about the bill here.