WASHINGTON – Top White House officials are in Mexico for crucial discussions with Mexican and Canadian counterparts. The primary focus of these meetings, led by homeland security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, involves tackling the pressing challenges posed by synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl.
The opioid crisis has reached alarming proportions, with an increasing number of American lives lost to fentanyl-related overdoses. This has ignited contentious discussions between the United States, Mexico, and China, with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) identifying both Mexico and China as the main sources of fentanyl and its related substances trafficked into the US.
Earlier this year, tensions escalated when the US imposed sanctions on 17 individuals and entities from China and Mexico. These measures accused them of facilitating the production of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills. China responded by condemning the sanctions, asserting its commitment to helping the US in drug control efforts out of humanitarian considerations. The Chinese government expressed concern that the sanctions might hinder bilateral cooperation in drug control initiatives.
Just a few days ago the Chinese embassy in Mexico said that the precursor chemicals that Mexican drug cartels are using to make fentanyl don’t actually come from China.
The urgency of addressing the opioid crisis is underlined by data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports 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.