The synthetic opioid fentanyl, deemed the deadliest drug in America, resulting in over 19,000 fatal overdoses in 2016 comes here mostly from China. It is either shipped directly to U.S. consumers through the mail or mixed with heroin that is smuggled across the southern border by Mexican drug cartels and it is making billionaires out of the manufacturers.
New York City’s JFK airport is thepoint of entry for about 60 percent our international mail packages. Seizures of fentanyl by Customs and Border Protection agents increased from 7 in 2016 to 84 in 2017, all from China. Nationwide, fentanyl seizures by CBP increased from 459 pounds in 2016 to 1,296 pounds last year.
A report this month from the Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs found China remains the major producer and exporter of drugs like fentanyl for illicit international markets. China’s vast chemical and pharmaceutical industries combined with lax regulation, low production costs, and government corruption makes China the “ideal source” for the export of materials needed in illicit drug production, according to the report.
In an affidavit, DEA agent Lindsey Bellomy said that based on wire transfers and other evidence, she “strongly believes” the Southern California group acquired its fentanyl from China. The affidavit lists a dozen deliveries from China to members of the group in January and February.
When police stopped one customer after he allegedly purchased fentanyl from the group, he was found to have “several thousand pills” later determined to be acetyl fentanyl by lab technicians. The customer told police he purchased drugs from the group every couple of days, and that he, in turn, sold his buyers a minimum of 1,000 pills, a quantity known as “a boat.”
In October, the Department of Justice announced the first-ever indictments of two Chinese nationals accused of shipping fentanyl to the United States. China has refused extradition.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers including in cases of customs fraud and illegal imports into the United States.