Fentanyl and How the White House Plans to Stop It
The United States is facing a unique type of crisis. One we may have brought on ourselves due to pharmaceutical ignorance. In the last decade, the United States has seen an urge in opioid, specifically synthetic pharmaceutical opioid, abuse. It’s become so bad that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there was a 73 percent increase in synthetic opioid-related deaths across the U.S. from 2014 to 2015.
A key player in the United States’ Opioid Crisis is a prescription known as fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that’s suspected to be 50 times more potent than heroin. The word wasn’t used frequently on news circulations until five years ago due to a surge of doctors prescribing the drug in the early 2000’s. However, it’s been involved in the medical community since the mid 1990s. Although prescription rates with fentanyl have fallen, overdoses associated with fentanyl have risen dramatically.
The United States federal government has recognized the impact of the Opioid Crisis and claim they are developing a plan to reduce the number of fentanyl-related overdoses each year.
From Chinese Labs to U.S. Streets; How Fentanyl is Made
When you hear the term “drug trafficking” you generally imagine drug cartels likely in Central America. For fentanyl, this isn’t the case. The majority of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced drugs originate from drug labs in China. These factories are enormous and have hundreds of dedicated workers who manufacture, cut and distribute fentanyl with other drugs.
The industry is enormous in China with the government being one of its biggest supporters. Even encouraging the business through a series of tax breaks, subsidies and other types of grants. It’s important to remember that fentanyl is not an issue in China. The government is much more focused on reducing drug abuse for substances such as heroin, meth and ketamine.
Since fentanyl is cheap to produce and mimics the effects of opioids, it’s a prime target for lacing drugs. China and illegal American manufacturers frequently splice fentanyl in drugs such as heroin or cocaine so they can save money and make a profit. This phenomenon is one of the major reasons why fentanyl-deaths are on the rise. People who actively avoid fentanyl may still use it unknowingly because it’s been cut into another drug.
The White House's Plans to Crack Down on Fentanyl
The United States government recently recognized the international nature of how fentanyl is manufactured and distributed. They recently announced they plan to crack down on fentanyl trafficking to help domestic and foreign businesses from inadvertently helping fentanyl distribution. The Trump administration state it’s efforts will involve a multi-pronged approach with sanctions against foreign narcotic kingpins and advisories in the private sector.
The sanctions are to be imposed on suspects and issuing advisories in the private sector who could possibly be involved in the fentanyl supply chain. The purpose of this is to disrupt the supply and cause issues with distribution, so hopefully fentanyl trafficking will decrease.
In addition, the United States has fallen back on the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which was established in the late 1990’s. The act was originally enacted as a way for the U.S. government to freeze cartel assets within American jurisdiction as well as prosecute U.S. citizens and entities found helping cartels conceal their practices.
Now, the Trump administration intends to use the act to stop fentanyl producers from entering the U.S. Once identified, the U.S. can then impose sanctions to block transactions with the fentanyl producer or company. This serves as another way to disrupt fentanyl trafficking and reduce opioid-related overdoses.
The White House also issued unprecedent private sectors advisories for U.S. and foreign businesses to reduce inadvertent involvement in fentanyl distribution. These advisories aim to address the four facets of fentanyl trafficking:
· Marketing Advisories: Raising awareness of the marketing and sale of illegal fentanyl by using unsuspecting private internet platforms such as social media, “silk road” dark web sites, online forums and e-commerce sites.
· Manufacturing Advisories:Describing the unique aspects of how illicit opioids are manufactured and identifying the production of fentanyl;
· Movement Advisories: Increasing awareness of how entities are involved in each stage of the fentanyl supply chain; and
· Money Advisories: Alerting financial institutions to potential financial money laundering and fraud schemes related to the trafficking of fentanyl.
Will the White House’s Plan to Stop Fentanyl Trafficking Work?
It’s hard to tell as of now if the Trump administration’s plans to stop fentanyl trafficking will be successful. As of September 26th, 2019 the United States has imposed sanctions on three Chinese men who were accused of illegally trafficking fentanyl in August. However, U.S. officials have been frustrated since China refuses to arrest the suspects.
It’s reported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse that 130 people day a die related to opioid overdoses. So, it’s clear that this crisis may need multiple solutions to decrease fentanyl distribution in this country. We will have to wait and see if President Trump’s proposal to stop fentanyl trafficking will work and hopefully save lives.