China’s “export-led economic strategy and lack of regulatory oversight” are responsible for most illicit and synthetic fentanyl in the United States, think tank Rand Corporation recently testified to Congress.
The global policy think tank told the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee that the rising opioid epidemic was initially fueled by an oversupply of prescription oxycodone and hydrocodone, but by 2019 morphed into an illicit synthetic opioid crisis causing “approximately two-thirds of all opioid overdose deaths.”
Pharmaceutically-pure fentanyl is an opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine. The compound was approved in 1968 as a transdermal skin patch for pain management treatment of very sick cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or hospice.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Enforcement Statistics reveal that fiscal year seizures of illicit fentanyl spiked from about one kilogram in 2013 to nearly 1,000 kilograms in 2018. With several U.S. regions transitioning away from heroin to synthetic opioids, the number of law enforcement fentanyl seizures within the United States vaulted from about 1,000 in 2013 to more than 59,000 in 2017.
Mexico drug cartels for decades have dominated traditional street-sourced opioids, such as heroin and diverted prescription painkillers. Law enforcement through 2004 would occasionally shut down a few American chemists’ small-scale production of illicit opioid powders. But the Mexican cartels in the mid-2000s started manufacturing about 7.5 percent pure fentanyl to enhance the potency of their heroin street sales in the U.S.
Canadian and U.S. law enforcement reported that since 2013, “most synthetic opioids and precursors originate not from a single clandestine source, but from what could be many semi-legitimate manufacturers and vendors, most of whom are in China.” read more here