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Biden admin launches global coalition to combat drug trafficking — but China, world's 'primary source' of fentanyl, skips initial meeting
Image Source: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Twitter screenshot

Biden admin launches global coalition to combat drug trafficking — but China, world's 'primary source' of fentanyl, skips initial meeting

The Biden administration recently announced the formation of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats, which seeks to bring nations together to combat the drug crisis, specifically to prevent fentanyl trafficking.

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicked off the coalition's first virtual meeting, which was attended by "97 countries and organizations," he said.

"This coalition seeks to unite countries worldwide in a concerted effort to prevent the illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs, identify emerging drug trends, and respond effectively to their public health impacts," the State Department stated in a June press release announcing the formation of the alliance.

The global coalition aims to crack down on fentanyl, tramadol, methamphetamine, MDMA, and ketamine trafficking.

Fentanyl is "50 to 100 times more potent than morphine," the National Institute of Health reported. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, "Fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, homicide, suicide and other accidents."

A 2020 report from the DEA declared that China is "the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail and express consignment operations environment, as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States."

Precursor chemicals and machinery used to make the synthetic drug are often purchased from China and shipped to drug cartels in Mexico. In late May, the United States Treasury placed sanctions on over a dozen individuals in China and Mexico allegedly supplying equipment to make the drugs.

China did not attend Friday's global coalition meeting despite receiving an invitation.

Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Todd D. Robinson stated Thursday, "We've invited China. We don't have any indication at the moment that they're going to participate. But what I would say is this is the beginning of the process, and our hope is that all responsible countries will eventually participate between now and over the next year."

Liu Pengyu, a Chinese embassy spokesperson, stated, "China is ready to work with other countries, including the United States, to establish co-operative relations featuring equality, mutual respect and trust, and win-win cooperation."

However, Beijing previously expressed disapproval regarding the sanctions placed against Chinese companies.

"We hope the U.S. side will take concrete action to address China's concerns and create conditions for more bilateral and multilateral cooperation on drug control," Liu stated.

During Friday's meeting, Blinken explained that approximately 110,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2022, most of which involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

He called America the "canary in the coal mine when it comes to fentanyl."

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