US sanctions China and Mexico for fentanyl operations

WASHINGTON — The United States has imposed sanctions on 17 individuals and entities in China and Mexico, accusing them of facilitating the production of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills. These actions are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the importation of this deadly drug.

The Treasury Department announced sanctions on seven entities and six individuals from China, as well as one business and three individuals from Mexico. The targeted entities and individuals are allegedly involved in selling pill press machines and other equipment used to create counterfeit pills with fake markings, such as Xanax and M30. These pills often contain fentanyl and are destined for the US market.

According to Brian Nelson, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, the sanctions aim to disrupt the entire supply chain responsible for the surge in fentanyl-related poisonings and deaths in the country. He stated, “Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl are a leading cause of these deaths, devastating thousands of American families annually. We are determined to utilize all available authorities to combat those enabling illicit drug production and counter the threat posed by these drugs.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl in the US has more than tripled from 2016 to 2021. Fentanyl is significantly stronger than heroin and morphine and is often mixed with other illicit drugs, leading to deadly consequences.

As the number of US drug-related overdose deaths reached nearly 110,000 in 2022, the Biden administration has been pushing for action. However, efforts to obtain assistance from China in curbing the illicit flow of fentanyl precursor chemicals have been met with reluctance from Chinese authorities.

The Chinese Embassy spokesperson in Washington, Liu Pengyu, criticized the Treasury’s move, calling it a violation of the rights and interests of the companies and individuals involved. Liu argued that the US should focus on reducing demand and improving prescription drug management instead of deflecting blame.