US Cracks Down on Drug Enablers in China and Mexico

US Treasury Sanctions 17 for Involvement in Illicit Drug Production Across China and Mexico

The United States has been at the forefront of international efforts to combat the manufacture, smuggling, and trafficking of synthetic drugs and fentanyl. This is in response to the significant number of deaths recorded among adult Americans aged 18 to 45 over the years. Today, the Department of the Treasury has taken steps to target 17 individuals and entities who have been implicated in the manufacturing and distribution of these illegal drugs.

Of the 17 individuals and entities, 13 are based in the People’s Republic of China, while the remaining four are located in Mexico. The decision to sanction these entities was coordinated with the Mexican government, and the action targets individuals and groups involved in criminal activities rather than any particular country. Those designated were involved in counterfeiting pills, simulating the markings of legitimate pharmaceutical products, and lacing these illegal products with fentanyl, as they were most likely intended for sale in the US.

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The move by the Department of the Treasury complements the efforts of the Biden-Harris administration to disrupt the global illicit fentanyl supply chain. The administration has supported over 20 million Americans in recovery, strengthened the alliance with the international law enforcement community, and issued more than 30 reward offers worth over $75 million for information that could lead to the arrest of illicit fentanyl traffickers. The Department of State has formed a global coalition to confront and combat synthetic drug threats, mobilizing international engagement and fostering innovative actions.

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The Biden administration is committed to disrupting the synthetic drugs supply chain from production to smuggling to distribution. The global threat that synthetic drugs pose requires collaborative efforts from all countries worldwide.

China and Mexico top the list of countries that produce synthetic drugs, including fentanyl. China, in particular, accounts for the majority of all the fentanyl sold and consumed in the US. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is frequently used by drug traffickers to increase the effects of illegal products such as heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit prescription drugs. Illicit fentanyl is a major component in the overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids globally.

The US government had earlier identified four of the Chinese entities on the list and added them to a blacklist on commerce. The said entities were crypto-related firms that facilitated the trade of narcotics and laundered drug proceeds. The US had also blacklisted some Chinese companies and officials implicated in the ill-treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

The sanctions come as President Biden and his administration are taking a tougher stance on criminal activity worldwide, both to protect national security and human rights. The US has imposed more sanctions on Russian individuals and entities, including measures against the country’s leadership, in response to the alleged Russian hacking of the SolarWinds software last year.

The US government continues to collaborate with other countries in the fight against the proliferation of synthetic drugs. The Senate had earlier passed the US Senate Rapid Act, which led to a significant reduction in the amount of synthetic drugs imported into the US. The passing of the act had also brought about improvements in the interdiction of synthetic drug precursors and trafficking along drug-transit zones and borders.

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The sanctions against the 17 individuals and entities appear to be a significant step in the war against illegal drugs, and many concerned bodies hope that it will catalyze more actions against the growing illicit synthetic drugs trade. It is essential to tackle the problem holistically, addressing the production, trafficking, and consumption of illicit drugs from all angles regularly and decisively. This multi-pronged approach will hopefully lead to the reduction of harm to individuals and communities worldwide.