Mexico Dominant Source Of Fentanyl Trafficked To US, Says Report

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(WABNEWS) — Mexico is currently a “dominant source” of the United States’ fentanyl supply, and synthetic opioids are rapidly glutting drug markets, according to a new US government report released Tuesday detailing how the opioid trade has changed. in the country in recent years.

The Federal Commission to Combat Trafficking in Synthetic Opioids — a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, experts, and officials from federal departments and agencies — warns in its report that if the country does nothing to change its response to new challenges, more American lives will be lost.

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“This is one of our most pressing national security, law enforcement and public health challenges, and we must do more as a nation and as a government to protect our most precious resource: American lives,” said Republican Senator Tom Cotton. of Arkansas and Democratic Representative David Trone of Maryland, co-chairs of the commission, in a letter included in the report.

From June 2020 to May 2021, fentanyl and synthetic opioids accounted for about two-thirds of the more than 100,000 US drug overdose deaths, the report found. The deaths occurred primarily among Americans ages 18 to 45.

Fentanyl seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration at the DEA Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019 in New York.

Fentanyl, a type of synthetic opioid, has been the “primary driver” of the US opioid epidemic and is 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the report. The document found that while 70% to 80% of the fentanyl federal authorities seized between roughly 2014 and 2019 came from China, Mexico is now the “dominant source” of fentanyl in the US.

Fentanyl is primarily trafficked overland across the US southern border with Mexico, although cartels have also increased their use of the US Postal Service, according to the report.

The commission noted that synthetic opioids are prevalent in long-standing illegal heroin markets, suggesting that “cheaper” and “stronger” synthetic opioids are replacing other traditionally misused opioids.

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Fentanyl, in addition to being mixed with heroin, is also manufactured in counterfeit tablets, including brand names like Adderall and Xanax, in “minute” amounts, which the report called “particularly concerning.” “The biggest concern is that most consumers do not, at least initially, seek out fentanyl specifically,” the report said.

Without intervention, the US “will continue to see the number of overdoses increase as illicit drug markets evolve, respond and produce an even wider variety of synthetic opioids, and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) English) diversify the presence of synthetic opioids in non-opioid drugs and pills to expand the market beyond traditional opioid users,” the report warned.

Recommendations against the fentanyl crisis

The commission made several recommendations for the US to stop the flow of synthetic opioids into the country and reduce overdoses, including strengthening policy coordination, interrupting the supply of drugs, increasing international cooperation, improving research and data collection, and establish strategies to reduce demand, such as expanding access to treatment.

As part of the recommended policy changes, he called for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to be the “central authority for policy formulation and interagency coordination on all drug control policy matters,” and that its director be returned to a cabinet-level position.

To disrupt the drug supply, the commission recommended improving oversight and enforcement, such as offering federal grants to local law enforcement to quickly investigate overdose deaths or having law enforcement partner with businesses. of US social networks to identify sellers of synthetic and chemical opioids.

To target manufacturers and distributors, the commission recommended that the US collaborate with other countries involved in the production and distribution of synthetic opioids. And he suggested that the US establish a policy framework to engage with China to improve oversight of its pharmaceutical industry and push the nation to “adopt clear rules.”

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The commission also wants the US to strengthen surveillance systems and data analysis to detect changes and trends in the drug market and better respond to the crisis, including the development of a national early warning system and a network of wastewater analysis.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency and then signed a sweeping annual defense bill that established the commission and charged it with developing strategies to combat the flood of synthetic opioids in the United States. .USA

President Joe Biden late last year declared a national emergency to deal with international drug trafficking, including the rise of fentanyl and synthetic opioids, in addition to ordering sanctions against foreign drug traffickers.

The challenge has only grown in the US, as the Covid-19 pandemic has fueled increases in substance use. At the height of the pandemic, more than 1 in 10 Americans began or increased substance use, leading to increased demand for fentanyl, according to the report.

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