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Bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act, Included In National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) For Fiscal Year 2020, Will Direct Trump Administration To Identify & Sanction Foreign Traffickers Of Synthetic Opioids On Annual Basis, Authorize New Funding For Law Enforcement & Intel Agencies; Pressure China, Mexico, And Other Synthetic Opioid Trafficking Countries To Crack Down On Traffickers

China Is The World’s Largest Producer Of Illicit Fentanyl And Currently Lacks The Capacity To Enforce Their Promise To Regulate Fentanyl; New Legislation Will Pressure China To Move Forward With An Aggressive Plan And Help U.S. Go After Illicit Traffickers

Schumer, Rose: China Must Be Held Accountable To Its Commitment To Regulate Deadly Fentanyl

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Max Rose today announced that following their push, the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, which is expected to pass early next week.

The senator and congressman’s bill will hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor their commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal. Additionally, the legislation will provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking-up formulas of death and freely exporting 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. Our bill gives our government the tools to enforce sanctions on nations, like China, that are illegally trafficking, and also provides new tools for law enforcement to go after opioid traffickers.”

“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 opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities across the country. In New York State, from November 2017 to 2018, approximately 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose. About 1,500 of those deaths were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Our legislation is critical in this fight to save American lives, and I’m proud to announce that it was included in the NDAA for FY2020 and is expected to pass early next week,” Schumer added.

“When it comes to keeping our kids safe and our streets free from fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin, there's no place for politics and partisanship,” said Congressman Rose. “The Fentanyl Sanctions Act will finally put these Chinese manufacturers on notice that the days of flooding our streets with fentanyl without consequence are over. Proud to see this moving to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
  • Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic opioid traffickers.
  • Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

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. 

Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019. China has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of the illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis. To ensure accountability, the sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries. Read more about the bill here.