USA’s appetite for those illegal substances fuels the drive in China to supply

Where Synthetic Opioids Really Come From

President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to combat the opioid crisis largely focuses on drug trafficking from Mexico. But in terms of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil — powerful narcotics that have contributed to mass overdoses across the United States in recent years — the problem appears to originate in China, according to an Associated Press investigation.

opioid-indsutryAP/Paul Faith –

Last week, Chinese officials dismissed claims by U.S. drug enforcement officials that the country was behind the surge in synthetics. In a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), China’s National Narcotics Control Commission said the claims “lack the support of sufficient numbers of actual, confirmed cases.”

But according to the DEA, Chinese labs remain the primary manufacturers producing synthetic opioids that are sold online and mailed to the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson told ATTN: there were two factors driving the distribution channel.

“The main reason there’s a lot of synthetics [in China is] that those [drugs] are controlled in the United States,” Patterson said. “You’re going to face some sort of prosecution if you have those illegally [in the U.S.], and they’re not all controlled in China.”

Shipping containers on a shipyardRalf Hirschberger/picture-alliance/dpa/AP –

But Patterson added that synthetic trafficking out of China likely wouldn’t be an issue were it not for American demand. “Our appetite for those illegal substances fuels the drive in China to supply that,” he said. “You get really, really basic into supply and demand. If we didn’t have the demand, they wouldn’t supply that to us.”

There has been progress on the synthetic opioid front. In 2015, the DEA worked with Chinese officials to enact bans on 115 chemicals — including several other synthetic drugs such as K2, Spice, and Flakka — and since then, law enforcement agencies have seen dramatic declines in the use and trafficking of these substances, CNN reported. But the problem persists because chemists continue to alter the chemical makeup of synthetic opioids, temporarily avoiding prosecution until regulators enact bans on those too.

Fentanyl and carfentanil, synthetic opioids that can be significantly stronger than heroin, represent some of the most pressing challenges for drug enforcement agencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported this month that fatal overdoses from these substances shot up 72 percent from 2014 to 2015.

syntheticThe Washington Post –

But as drug policy officials continue to collaborate on enforcement strategy, there’s hope that what happened to synthetics like K2 and Flakka will happen to fentanyl and carfentanil after China imposes new bans. It’s a temporary solution, but at least in the short-term, it could mean less deadly drugs on the streets.

2 Responses

  1. China has such a problem with over population and is dismissive of human life that I don’t believe they even care that they’re importing death. Perhaps we should bring manufacturing of all products that we currently import from China and just quit allowing ANY imports from there making it more difficult for them to slip these street drugs into the United States and help our economy in the process. I know it won’t ever happen because nothing that would be successful in the stupid war on drugs will be done. It’s much simpler to attack doctors and their patients to keep job security in the alphabet soup of agencies

  2. A single death caused by synthetic opiates is just another number in the bureaucratic overdose column. The problem is that we are all only numbers in the bureaucratic minds instead of flesh and blood human beings. Our illnesses, our injuries, and even our votes are only numbers in the statistical soup known as the War on Drugs. No one in government asks why an overdose death has happened, and they don’t really care why, they just put another mark in the overdose death column.
    This is where our media outlets need to come in and start investigating overdose deaths instead of regurgitating bureaucratic propaganda. Every deserves to have their story told and it could get real interesting if news agencies started reporting about chronic pain sufferers who have died from a overdose of illegal street drugs because they were denied pain medications by their physicians. This would put a name and a face to the number that the CDC or DEA wouldn’t be able to deny.

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