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FIRST ON FOX: Republican attorneys general are calling for action on what they are warning is a “fentanyl scourge” from China and Mexico – warning that it marks a “grave and rising threat” against the American people.
The 16 attorneys general, led by West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey and Arizona’s Mark Brnovich, sent a letter on Thursday to the Biden administration on “a grave and rising threat against out people: China’s complete unwillingness to police the production and distribution of fentanyl precursors and Mexico’s subsequent failure to control illegal manufacturing of fentanyl using those precursors.”
They warn that the deadly opioid epidemic has been going on for more than a decade, fueled by Chinese manufacturers. However, while the Chinese communist government has cracked down on fentanyl production since 2019 due to pressure from the U.S., the attorneys general say the situation has worsened as they are now making and sending raw ingredients to Mexican drug cartels – who they say are making and trafficking fentanyl “at an industrial scale.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is seeing a record number of seizures of fentanyl. (Courtesy DEA) (DEA)
Fentanyl, an opioid for pain treatment, is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 79,000 people between 18 and 45 years old — 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021 — died of fentanyl overdoses, data analysis from opioid awareness organization Families Against Fentanyl shows.
“But in the face of this evolving and significant problem, the federal government has seemed content to stand by,” the officials say in the letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We therefore write to insist on a fulsome and urgent response to this escalating plague killing our people every day.”
They cite government data that shows that fentanyl smuggling directly from China has shrunk from 128 kgs in 2017 to half a kilogram in 2020, but the amount of being smuggled over the U.S. Southern Border has increased dramatically.
In Fiscal Year 2021, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized 10,586 lbs of the deadly drug at the southern border, which can be fatal in extremely small amounts. That is up from 4,558 lbs seized in FY 2020 and 2,633 lbs seized in FY 2019.
The officials say that they are seeing an “extraordinary tide of senseless death from fentanyl,” with fentanyl accounting for three out of four of every drug death in West Virginia. In Florida, meanwhile, fentanyl was the leading cause of drug deaths in 2020 and deaths had risen 63%.
They argue that one of the responses is to increase pressure on China and Mexico, who they say are not doing enough to combat the problem — and urge Blinken to “take immediate steps to stem the fentanyl scourge” coming from the two countries.
“Though China may have taken some initial steps to address domestic production of fentanyl itself, it has turned a blind eye as its citizens have forged an international triangle of death with Mexico,” they say.
“Mexico must likewise be pressured to take swift and forceful action against the cartels that are producing finished fentanyl and trafficking this poison across the border into our country,” they say. “The Mexican government’s negligence in permitting the erection of industrial scale manufacturing of fentanyl is inexcusable.”
The letter is signed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.