By Pat Anson, Editor
China is disputing claims that most of the illicit fentanyl and related chemicals that are being smuggled into the U.S. and killing thousand of Americans originated in China. President Trump has said he would ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to “hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl” when he visits Beijing this week.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed legally to treat severe pain, but illicit fentanyl and its chemical analogues have become a scourge on the black market, where they are often mixed with heroin or turned into counterfeit prescription drugs.
“The evidence isn't sufficient to say that the majority of fentanyl or other new psychoactive substances come from China," said Wei Xiaojun, deputy director-general of China’s Narcotics Control Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.
Wei spoke at a joint news conference Friday with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. China and the DEA have stepped up their cooperation on drug control problems in recent months, with Beijing putting dozens of fentanyl related chemicals on its list of controlled substances.
“Once China controls a substance it has a dramatic effect on the United States in terms of lives saved,” said Lance Ho, who heads a new DEA office in Beijing.
"We did this even when there is no widespread fentanyl abuse in China," Wei said. "We were aware of the crisis in the U.S. and took the U.S. concern into consideration."
But an editorial in a Korean newspaper disputed the level of Chinese cooperation, claiming that China was using fentanyl in a “chemical war” against the U.S.
“Fentanyl is the nuclear narcotic that is killing thousands of Americans today and another example of China’s two-faced approach. The chemical, known as ‘China Girl’ or ‘China White’ on the street, may have some Chinese victims, but its true value is as a profitable opiate export that also destroys American communities and roils the U.S. political landscape,” said The Korea Herald.
“Drug exports have allowed for the establishment of new Chinese-run drug cartels and distributors within the United States while untimely and tragic American deaths are recorded daily.”
According to the CDC, illicit fentanyl killed 20,000 Americans in 2016. A recent CDC study found that over half the opioid overdoses in ten states involved fentanyl.
Son of Fox News Anchor Overdosed on Fentanyl
The son of a former Fox News anchor overdosed and died after taking counterfeit prescription drugs made with fentanyl, according to reports.
19-year old Eric Bolling Jr. was found dead in his Boulder, Colorado apartment September 3. He is the son of Eric Bolling, who was recently fired by Fox News for allegedly sending lewd texts to several women.
The Boulder County coroner recently reported the younger Bolling had high levels of fentanyl, cocaine, marijuana and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system when he died.
According to police, Bolling and a friend had gone to Denver the day before his death to buy cocaine and other drugs. They bought five pills that appeared to look like Percocet, a branded version of the painkiller oxycodone. Bolling, who had a history of drug abuse, took one of the pills and quickly realized it wasn’t Percocet.
“Eric took half of a percocet and the cocaine dealer took half of a percocet. Within a few minutes Eric and the percocet dealer started ‘panicking’ because they had a different reaction to the percocet than they normally do. Eric made the comment that he thought the percocet may have contained fentanyl,” investigators said in a police report obtained by TheBlast.com.
Bolling’s body was found by a girlfriend the next day. His death has been ruled accidental.
The DEA recently added three more fentanyl analogues -- ortho-fluorofentanyl, tetrahydrofuranyl fentanyl, and methoxyacetyl fentanyl -- to its list of Schedule I Controlled Substances, chemicals that are considered highly dangerous and addictive.
At least 17 confirmed overdose deaths have been linked to the three drugs in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The drugs have also been found in California, Florida, Ohio and Missouri.
The Justice Department recently indicted two major Chinese drug traffickers accused of manufacturing fentanyl in drug labs in China and selling it to U.S. customers over the Internet.