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On National Fentanyl Awareness Day, DEA Head Highlights Role of Chinese Producers in Opioids Reaching America

Every 11 days, as many Americans die from fentanyl overdose as did in the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001.
Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: May 7, 2024
China fentanyl precursor sellers are taking Bitcoin and Tether to settle payments for overseas shipments.
A file photo of heroin said to be contaminated with fentanyl during a press conference following a drug bust in New York in September of 2016. A blockchain analyst firm has found that at least 90 entities located in mainland China are selling fentanyl and fentanyl precursors via the Internet, accepting Bitcoin and the Tether stablecoin as payment. Addresses provided by the sellers were traced to find more than $27 million in payments processed, enough to produce $54 billion worth of fentanyl. (Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Testifying at a hearing before Congress on May 7, which is National Fentanyl Awareness Day, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram described how chemical companies and money laundering organizations from Communist China fuel Mexican drug runners’ smuggling of the deadly drug into the United States, where it kills thousands every week.

More than 100,000 Americans die from opioid overdose every year.

That means that every 11 days, the same number of people who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 — or around 3,000 people — die from overdoses on fentanyl and related drugs, Milgram said, calling the drug epidemic a “national tragedy.”

The Tuesday event was held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

According to Milgram, in just the year of 2023 the DEA seized nearly 79 million fake pills laced with fentanyl and nearly 12,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. That weight is enough to for 380 million potential deadly doses of the synthetic drug.

US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram speaks during a press conference to announce disruptions of the fentanyl precursor chemical supply chain at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2023. The United States at that time announced sanctions on a China-based network for producing and distributing chemicals used to make drugs including those that have fueled a deadly national fentanyl crisis. (Image: STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese production, which is backed by the country’s Communist Party, is responsible for the vast majority of the fentanyl and other illicit opioids that enter the United States.


“When we talk about the distribution of fentanyl into this country, it’s coming from China. It’s going to Mexico, it’s coming here, and it’s killing our kids,” said Matt Cartwright, a Democratic congressman representing Pennsylvania, at the hearing.

Congressional leaders emphasized the need to allocate more funds to the DEA to combat this “war” on American lives.

‘A proxy war’ against America

Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX), described the scale of the crisis and Communist China’s role as a “proxy war” targeting the U.S. and its people.

“If you want to take fentanyl, plus fentanyl poisonings, plus overdoses in one year, it equals all the wars since World War II combined. That is a war. That’s a proxy war being put on us by China [and] administered by the cartels in Mexico,” he said.

Speaking in an interview with the Chinese-edition Vision Times, Australia-based Chinese dissident and jurist Yuan Hongbing, who has contacts in the Chinese Communist Party elite, said he obtained information about directives given by the CCP leadership regarding fentanyl production and export to the United States.

Yuan Hongbing, a Chinese jurist now residing in Australia, speaks at a Chinese democracy event in 2009. (Image: via

According to Yuan, who cited “conscientious individuals within the CCP regime,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivered a secret speech in late 2022 or early 2023 in which he described American demands for Beijing to limit fentanyl production as an act of “economic aggression” against China. He also blamed the U.S. government for not getting America’s drug problem under control by itself.

The Party head’s alleged remarks markedly contrast from statements made by Chinese officials in recent talks with their American counterparts, as well as the establishment early this year of a joint U.S.-Chinese counternarcotics team following Xi’s visit to the U.S. and face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden.

In the purported speech, Xi was said to have framed the Communist Chinese fentanyl export as “karma” for the opium trade of the 1800s, which saw Western powers, principally the UK and France, fight wars to force then-imperial China to allow sale of the addictive and deadly drug.

While the speech was deemed “important,” its contents were only conveyed by word of mouth from those present at the meeting, Yuan said, citing his insider contacts.

In a separate internal meeting following Xi’s speech, China’s minister of public security Wang Xiaohong directed various government agencies to “regard the production and trafficking of fentanyl as part of the strategic total war and unrestricted warfare against the United States,” Yuan said.