China Is Key Source Of Illicit Fentanyl Into NYC & LI.; Traffickers Turn To China To Produce & Then Shop The Deadly Drug Across America, Where It Is Taking Terrible Toll    

Schumer’s Fentanyl Sanctions Bill Would Give Law Enforcement & Intelligence Community More Tools To Combat Opioid Epidemic, Direct POTUS To Publicly Identify Foreign Traffickers & Use Economic Sanctions To Cripple Foreign Labs & Bad Actor Economies  

Schumer: It’s High Time To Fight Deadly Fentanyl With Tough Sanctions

With the Trump Administration headed to Beijing this upcoming week to continue trade talks and frustrating inaction by China’s government on the trafficking of illicit fentanyl to the United States, where it is killing tens-of-thousands--many from New York--U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is announcing a new bill to hold China accountable. Schumer, today, is unveiling a first-ever fentanyl sanctions bill that would give law enforcement and intelligence community more tools to combat the opioid epidemic, empower the President to call-out foreign traffickers and use economic sanctions, similar to the kinds used to respond to Putin and Russian oligarchs, to cripple foreign labs and apply economic pressure to countries turning a blind eye to fentanyl drug production and trafficking.

“For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking-up formulas of death and freely trafficking lethal fentanyl across New York, and to many other places across America, where it is killing tens-of-thousands of people—and it has to stop,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “When it comes to taking genuine action to address this crisis, China continues to kick the can down the road while American lives are kicked to the curb, enveloped by addiction or cut all too short by tragedy.”

The most recent deferral of action came during the G-20 summit, where China made a verbal commitment to act on the trafficking of fentanyl, but nothing has happened since.

“Since the G-20 summit, when it concerns the export of fentanyl, we have failed to see a signed and enforceable agreement, a solid plan or genuine commitment from China. We cannot be satisfied with handshakes and group photos, or we will not wait forever. Instead, we must present China with a tough but fair consequence when it comes to the wave of fentanyl flowing into the United States,” Schumer added.

Schumer explained that the Fentanyl Sanctions Act is intended to give law enforcement officials more tools to combat the opioid epidemic. It would direct the President to publically identify foreign traffickers of opioids on a semiannual basis and use a number of economic policy tools to cripple their operations, including deny access to U.S. markets, blocking transactions with U.S. financial institutions and denying visas. The legislation broadly defines “Traffickers of opioids” to hold accountable manufacturers in China and other countries who make fentanyl analogues and ship them illicitly to the U.S., transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico, who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S., and financial institutions that aide these entities. 

While the sanctions are mandatory, the legislation would only allow the President to waive certain sanctions on state-owned enterprises if a country, like China, scheduled the entire category of fentanyl-type substances as controlled substances and initiated substantial regulatory reforms or substantially increased the number of prosecutions of opioid traffickers. Additionally, the legislation establishes a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China and Mexico. The legislation would also direct the President to commence diplomatic efforts to establish an international opioid control regime and provide new funding to law enforcement agencies to combat the trafficking of synthetic opioids.  Finally, the legislation would provide authorize additional funding to departments and agencies to ensure robust collection of intelligence and enforcement of these new sanctions.

Insufficient regulation of synthetic opioid production in China continues to contribute to a flood of opioids into the United States. China does not have an opioid crisis and has not acted to police the production of these deadly drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that from June 2017 through June 2018 more than 48,000 people in the United States died from an opioid overdose, with synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, contributing to a record 31,500 overdose deaths. While drug overdose deaths from methadone, semi-synthetic opioids and heroin have decreased in recent months, overdose deaths synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl and its derivatives, have continued to increase.

According to the NYC Department of Health, there were 1,441 unintentional drug overdose deaths in New York City in 2017, compared to 942 unintentional drug overdose deaths in 2015-- an increase of roughly 53% in only two years. Approximately four fatal drug overdoses occurred each day in New York City in 2017. Opioids are involved in more than 80% of all overdose deaths, and heroin was involved in 751 (54 percent) fatal overdoses in New York City in 2016. Fentanyl was involved in 44 percent of all fatal overdoses in 2016. This data suggests that more New Yorkers die of drug overdoses than homicides, suicides, and motor vehicle crashes combined. Schumer, today, said these numbers are proof positive of how critical it is to tackle fentanyl as its origin point of China.

The heroin epidemic has also hit Long Island especially hard. According to Newsday, in 2018 there were 110 opioid overdose deaths in Nassau County, and 373 opioid overdose deaths in Suffolk County, with the total number of deaths adding to 483.

Fentanyl is trafficked into the United States primarily from China and Mexico, and is responsible for the ongoing fentanyl epidemic. The People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and their immediate precursors. From the People’s Republic of China, those substances are shipped primarily through express consignment carriers or international mail directly to the United States, or, alternatively, shipped directly to transnational criminal organizations in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Some officials estimate that China is responsible for over 90 percent of the illicit fentanyl found in the U.S.

In the fiscal year 2017, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) made 118 seizures of illicit fentanyl totaling approximately 240 lbs. in the express consignment carrier [ECC] environment and 227 seizures totaling approximately 92 lbs. of illicit fentanyl at international mail facilities (IMFs). The majority of illicit fentanyl at IMFs and ECC locations is shipped in purities of over 90 percent, whereas the majority of fentanyl seized within the land border environment is seized in purities of less than 10 percent. A single kilogram of fentanyl (2.2lbs) purchased in China carries the potential of being lethal for five hundred thousand people.

In July, more than 46 pounds of heroin and fentanyl was seized in a single raid in the Bronx. The heroin and fentanyl seized from the raid was worth $7.5 million. In June, 22 pounds of heroin, worth $3 million, were seized after a car driving through Upper Manhattan was stopped.

Schumer pointed to a handful of other 2018 and 2019 drug busts in the New York-metro area as examples of the drastic presence of fentanyl plaguing our communities:

  • In September, 14 alleged heroin dealers from two loosely-connected groups were arrested in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. 7,000 envelopes of heroin were found at the scene. The drug ring had expanded their operations into Upper Manhattan. 
  • In September, 25 people in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx were arrested for being involved in a heroin packaging operation, involving $2 million worth of heroin that also made its way to Long Island.
  • In July, 55 pounds, worth $7.5 million, of heroin and fentanyl was seized in a Bronx raid.
  • In June, 22 pounds of heroin, worth $3 million, were seized after a car driving through Upper Manhattan was stopped.
  • In May, an alleged Brooklyn heroin distribution ringleader was arrested after reportedly circulating around 2 million glassines of heroin.
  • In April, more than 90 pounds of fentanyl and heroin was seized in Suffolk county—the largest seizure in Suffolk County history.
  • In April, 20 pounds of narcotics were seized in a drug bust while investigating a pair of fentanyl overdoses.
  • In March, thirty-four people in Brooklyn were charged with distributing drugs. The drugs were sold throughout the five boroughs. More than 103 pounds of heroin and fentanyl, worth $22 million, were seized.‎
  • Last month, authorities announced the arrest of a local kingpin who had more than 70 lbs. of heroin and fentanyl in stash houses in the Bronx and Yonkers.
  • Last month, authorities arrested 14 Brooklyn drug traffickers, and cops recovered more than $2 million in heroine, fentanyl and cocaine. 


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