The U.S. is calling on Beijing to do more to curb the network of illegal drug production in China.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official Anne Milgram told CBS News that it is essential every shipment of chemicals that are coming out of Chinese chemical companies and coming to Mexico is tracked. She said they had not been able to do that.
DEA is targeting the production of a chemical called fentanyl, which for the first time goes beyond 60.000 overdose deaths in the U.S. in a single year.
The majority of fentanyl in the United States is produced in Mexico using ingredients made in China. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. DEA chief Milgram said these chemicals are outwardly sold to Mexican drugmakers whose products would get smuggled into the U.S.
She said that the ability to locate the chemicals right at the source would increase the chances of stopping them from ever arriving in Mexico.
Drug overdoses have taken the lives of more than one million Americans since 2001.
A crisis of opioid addiction, and Americans turning more to synthetic opioids, have raised the case numbers even further.
Furthermore, cartels find it easier to produce chemical drugs like fentanyl than natural crops like poppy for heroin or coca for cocaine.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official Milgram said fentanyl’s threat to teens is even higher because it can be bought online under other forms. A study found that fentanyl was involved in three-quarters of teen overdose deaths last year.
Milgram warns that fentanyl-laced drugs could be disguised as prescription pills and be sold online. They can order this drug on popular social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook. They might think they are buying a prescription pill such as Xanax, Adderall, or Oxy. But the ones they buy contain fentanyl.
Among 10 pills caught last year, Milgram said four contained 2 milligrams or more of fentanyl. This amount makes up a deadly dose.
The official said the amount equal to a tip of a pencil is enough to take someone’s life.