Vice President Kamala Harris discussed the growing fentanyl crisis in the United States, but failed to mention China and Mexico’s large roles in producing and trafficking the drug into the U.S., during a roundtable discussion with various state attorneys general on Tuesday.
Harris talked about the Biden administration’s efforts to drive down national fentanyl overdose deaths, which climbed to 70,000 in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. China is the main producer of fentanyl chemical precursors and that Mexico is primarily responsible for trafficking fentanyl into the U.S., according to a 2020 report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“On the issue of fentanyl and the opioid crisis, we each recognize and have joined together today because we are facing a public health crisis,” Harris said. “We recognize that there is also a critical issue here in terms of public safety, and an appropriate law enforcement response to address what we know to be trafficking and some of the motivation for the passage of fentanyl throughout our country and across our borders.”
Mexico has repeatedly denied its role in the fentanyl crisis, which is currently ravaging American communities.
“There are people who are making a whole lot of money off of the trafficking of these drugs. And so, it is about thinking about the resources that our state attorneys general have, and supported by the federal government, to do the investigations and then prosecute these cases,” Harris added.
Tune in as I speak about the fentanyl crisis and our Administration’s work with state attorneys general to tackle it. https://t.co/0ZDnGyZ1rV
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) July 18, 2023
Mexico and China play two different but equally lethal roles in the fentanyl crisis, according to the DEA’s 2020 report. China is the primary producer of fentanyl chemical precursors and “fentanyl-related substances,” which are then shipped overseas via mail or consignment operations to Mexico or the U.S.
Mexico’s transnational criminal organizations (TCO) have increased production of fentanyl and fentanyl-containing tablets using advanced laboratories and processing materials, the report says. The drugs are then smuggled across the U.S. border in increasingly high quantities through a network of cartel-controlled trafficking corridors.
The Biden administration and Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted a meeting last week with representatives of 84 different countries to form a coalition against fentanyl production and trafficking. China gave no indication they would participate in the coalition, despite being extended an invitation, according to the State Department.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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