Every day the opioid epidemic continues to create more suffering and struggle across the country. In every state there are people scrambling for a way out, with politicians and citizens staggering to keep up with growing death rates and the damage to their communities. With America fighting desperately to get ahead of the outbreak officials are looking to China, where most of the illicit synthetic opioids are coming from, for some help putting an end to the flow of the fentanyl outbreak.
The American Fentanyl Outbreak
Subsequently, the continual rise of illicit and lethal fentanyl being blended into the underground market of opioids has instigated higher than ever death tolls. Government officials found themselves in increasingly desperate times last summer when the DEA warned the public that counterfeit pill pressers were distributing the potent fentanyl drug disguised as prescription painkillers. This cost countless users unaware of the drugs presence or its danger their lives, and continues to do so today.
At the time, the agency said that fentanyl disguised as prescription pills has become a consistent trend, not a series of isolated incidents or freak accidents.
Drug dealers could reportedly make millions from selling pills. But many decided they could easily boost their profits by making pills at home. All they would need were:
- Pill press
- Binding agents
With enterprising ingenuity drug dealers could easily make fentanyl resemble other less potent and more popular drugs of abuse, such as the prescription opioid oxycodone or even anti-anxiety pills.
Once this drug became a go-to ingredient for dealers to cut their product, be it heroin or prescription pills, the fentanyl outbreak spread like wildfire. There is no telling as of now how many overdoses alone have been caused by fentanyl, not to mention how many deaths.
China Market for Synthetic Opioids
China has been singled out as the main source of synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Through the internet drug dealers can purchase fentanyl from websites hosted in China and have shipments sent to the United States, making the same package handlers that deliver your mail in the morning secret drug traffickers.
According to data from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), seizures of fentanyl arriving by mail have increased drastically:
- In 2011, 0.09 kilograms of fentanyl were seized by mail
- In 2016 is rose to 37 kilograms
America definitely knows what kind of damage the dark web drug trade can do. We have seen it right here with Dread Pirate Robets and the Silk Road story. Having to try and disrupt the flow of drugs coming from another country puts officials in a tough spot.
China and U.S. Team Up
Officials in the US are bracing for the threat of what they call the “next wave” of the opioid crisis. Experts looking at the current trend believe with conviction that things will inevitably get worse before they get better. However, not everyone is as concerned about the future of the fentanyl outbreak.
Enter Tom Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, who insists he is optimistic about the China’s efforts to team up with the United States in the fight against the fentanyl outbreak.
Price knows that both the U.S. and China are struggling to keep up with what he calls the-
“- rapidly changing ability of individuals to formulate new chemical makeups that are a different drug and that aren’t in the controlled arena.”
Regarding synthetic drugs this is the same hurdle law enforcement and government officials have come up against for years. Manufacturers continually rename products and slightly alter the chemical make-up in order to slip through loop-holes of legality.
For example, the drug U-47700 (also known as “Pink”) is designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances. However, these counterfeit chemists twist the chemical structure of the compound. This makes it more possible for illegal drug makers to skirt drug laws and drug tests.
The same thing has happened over and over with synthetic marijuana products in America, like K2 and Spice.
Fentanyl has become more relevant than ever.
- In June the DEA reported a seizure of 44.14 kilograms (which comes out to 14 million doses) of fentanyl in San Diego County, California
- Weeks ago Arizona law enforcement seized 30,000 fentanyl pills that were made to look like oxycodone
Chinese officials have also stated that facing the fentanyl outbreak they have dealt with many difficulties. This past June, Yu Haibin of China’s narcotics control agency stated:
“My feeling is that it’s just like a race and I will never catch up with the criminals,”
Shortly afterwards on the 1st of July, China implemented a ban on four synthetic opioids, including:
The head of the US Department of Health and Human Services stated,
“When a particular drug is identified as being a problem, China has been an incredible partner in helping to stop the production of drugs like fentanyl in China,”
Price says he is also confident that China will play an important part in fighting the rise of carfentanil, a drug so potent it is used as an elephant tranquilizer.
Both nations have found it hard to keep up with everything the illicit drug makers are up to. If anything they can agree it is a very real problem and it must be taken seriously. While the opioid epidemic in America has yet to show any sign of slowing down, some officials are optimistic that at the very least we may soon see some decline in the more deadly elements that have been slipped into the market.