By Jennie Taer
The Biden administration announced Tuesday its strategy for combating the supply chain allowing illicit fentanyl to enter the U.S. to kill Americans.
The plan includes partnering with other countries, increasing law enforcement information sharing, leveraging the private sector, increasing financial sanctions and urging congressional action, the White House said in a statement. Roughly 70,000 people in the U.S. died of synthetic opioid overdoses in 2021, up from roughly 57,000 in 2020, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“At a time when the global illicit fentanyl supply chain has changed how illicit substances are produced and trafficked, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing a strengthened whole-of-government approach to save lives by disrupting the trafficking of illicit fentanyl and its precursors into American communities,” the White House said.
Illicit fentanyl is largely produced in clandestine labs in Mexico by cartels that use chemicals imported from China, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It is often smuggled across the southern border, where federal authorities seized 11,000 pounds of the synthetic drug between October 2022 and February 2023, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The White House’s new strategy includes targeting the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels in Mexico, which DEA Administrator Anne Milgram testified in February are largely responsible for illicit fentanyl coming into the U.S.
Mexico, however, has been a hurdle to countering the supply, Milgram said at the time. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Chinese government have recently separately denied any role in the fentanyl epidemic in the U.S.
“It’s a deception campaign, which is nothing new. They’re putting out false information to try to garner support,” former DEA Special Operations Division chief Derek Maltz recently told the Daily Caller News Foundation of Mexico’s denial.
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