Mexico urges China to halt export of fentanyl chemicals, criticizes US pressure

MEXICO CITY — President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to help halt the flow of chemicals from China into Mexico that are being used by Mexican drug dealers to illegally produce fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has been blamed for about 70,000 overdose deaths per year in the United States.

According to the Associated Press, in a letter to Jinping, López Obrador urged him to stop shipments of chemicals that Mexican cartels import from China. While China has taken some steps to limit fentanyl exports, mislabeled or harder-to-detect precursor chemicals continue to pour out of Chinese factories.

The Mexican President also criticized U.S. pressure to curb the drug trade and complained about “rude threats” from U.S. legislators over the issue. López Obrador complained about calls in the United States to designate Mexican drug gangs as terrorist organizations and took issue with some Republicans who favor using the U.S. military to crack down on the Mexican cartels.

López Obrador denied claims that Mexico is not doing enough to stop the trafficking of fentanyl into the U.S. and stated that Mexico does not produce the drug, but that cartels buy it directly from Asia. He added that only 30% of the drug consumed in the U.S. enters via Mexico. López Obrador has previously said that fentanyl is America’s problem and is caused by “a lack of hugs” in U.S. families.

However, U.S. officials contest López Obrador’s view, arguing that fentanyl is mass-produced in Mexico using chemicals sourced largely from China.

The Mexican President’s request for China’s help in controlling the shipment of fentanyl precursors is not the first time that China has been asked to crack down on the production and export of fentanyl.

The opioid epidemic is a complex problem that requires a multi-faceted solution, including better regulation of chemicals used in drug production, increased education and prevention efforts, and better access to addiction treatment and support.