President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico has asked China to help him stop the shipment of chemicals used by drug dealers in the production of illicit fentanyl.
Fentanyl trafficking has soared in recent years, according to data from United States border authorities. The illicit, synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than morphine.
López Obrador sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping requesting he halts the trans-Pacific shipment of fentanyl components “for humanitarian reasons.”
“Unjustly, they are blaming us for problems that in large measure have to do with their loss of values, their welfare crisis,” López Obrador wrote. “These positions are in themselves a lack of respect and a threat to our sovereignty, and moreover they are based on an absurd, manipulative, propagandistic and demagogic attitude.”
“I write to you, President Xi Jinping, not to ask your help on these rude threats, but to ask you for humanitarian reasons to help us by controlling the shipments of fentanyl,” he said.
López Obrador previously denied fentanyl is produced in Mexico, even though his administration has confirmed finding multiple labs in Sinaloa – a state about 900 miles south of Los Angeles. The Mexican president has said the U.S. opioid crisis is caused by “a lack of hugs” in U.S. families, per AP News.
While meeting with American lawmakers in Mexico City in March, López Obrador vowed to personally work with China to stop the international flow of materials that contribute to the rise in fentanyl trafficking.
“López Obrador’s pledge to stop precursors was seen as an implicit recognition that clandestine labs run by drug cartels play a key role in producing the fentanyl that is feeding the opioid crisis in U.S. communities,” noted The Hill.
The flow of fentanyl has been on the rise since 2014. China and Mexico are responsible for the majority of fentanyl that reaches the U.S. with “new transit countries emerging as significant trafficking nodes,” according to a January 2020 report from the Drug Enforcement Agency.
“This is exacerbating the already multi-faceted fentanyl crisis by introducing additional source countries into the global supply chain of fentanyl, fentanyl-related substances, and fentanyl precursors,” stated the report. “Seizures of fentanyl sourced from China average less than one kilogram in weight, and often test above 90 percent concentration of pure fentanyl.”
In February 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 1,066% increase in the amount of fentanyl seized in one single fiscal year in south Texas alone.
“There is significant risk that illegal drugs have been intentionally contaminated with fentanyl,” states the DEA. “Because of its potency and low cost, drug dealers have been mixing fentanyl with other drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine, increasing the likelihood of a fatal interaction.”
During the 12 months of 2022, the DEA seized 50.6 million fentanyl-laced, fake prescription pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder – the equivalent of 379 million potentially fatal doses of the synthetic opioid.