Chinese Fentanyl: Killing Americans by the Thousands

Illegal fentanyl imports from China are wreaking havoc in America. (Image:  flickr /  CC0 1.0)
Illegal fentanyl imports from China are wreaking havoc in America. (Image: flickr / CC0 1.0)

Around 2013, narcotics made in China started hitting American streets. Soon, they became so popular that the overdose deaths kept piling up year after year. Chinese-manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is estimated to have killed about 79,000 people just within the last three years. This is greater than all the deaths of American combatants in wars against Iran, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. President Donald Trump recently lashed out at China for its inability to control illegal fentanyl exports to the U.S.

A Chinese problem

After pressure from the U.S., the Chinese government began regulating fentanyl and related drugs from May this year. According to Beijing, they have successfully blocked fentanyl exports to America. However, Virginia’s law enforcement recently found a huge stash of cheap fentanyl that was enough to kill 14 million people. The fentanyl was linked to a source in China. The bulk of these opioids is coming to America through the mail.

In 2018, Congress passed a law that mandated that all packages coming in from China be labeled with content and place of origin. But this has failed to curb the problem, as only 100 of the 1.3 million international packages are inspected by the authorities every day. “I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS, and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE,…. .all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!). Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop — it didn’t,” Trump said in a series of tweets (@realDonaldTrump). Even the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that China was continuing to “pour poison into our communities.”  

Trump lashed out against China’s inability to control fentanyl imports to the U.S. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Liu Yuejin, deputy chief of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, claims that Beijing is doing everything it can to help the U.S. on the issue. However, this is a blatant lie. On the contrary, China seems to be disinterested in any sort of cooperation with American authorities. When federal agencies indicted three Chinese drug kingpins for manufacturing fentanyl and sending it over to the U.S., China refused to extradite them despite several requests by the U.S. These criminals are believed to be still operational, sending in the opioids that continue to kill Americans.

Fentanyl in the body

“Fentanyl was originally formulated as a medical drug, something that was used in … open heart surgery and in end-of-life care… It’s an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin, 100 times stronger than morphine… Basically, it’s so cheap to produce and it’s so powerful that drug dealers began realizing it was a way to increase their profits,” Ben Westhoff, author of Fentanyl, Inc., said to NPR.

Fentanyl was originally used as a medication. (Image: wikimedia / GNU FDL)

Fentanyl depresses the respiratory centers and cough reflex of the body while constricting the pupils at the same time. It affects the body in just a few minutes and soon eases the pain. The effect lasts only for a short duration, typically between 30 and 90 minutes. Fentanyl will affect people differently based on a person’s size, state of health, frequency of taking opioids, and so on.

Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in America right now. In 2010, fentanyl accounted for just 14.3 percent of total opioid-related deaths. But as of 2017, this jumped to 59 percent. The high risk from the drug comes from the fact just 2 milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill a person. 

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