After the Biden Administration implemented a series of comprehensive sanctions and legal actions against China-based companies, entities, and Chinese nationals for manufacturing and selling illicit fentanyl and related chemicals, the White House announced a new agreement between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping aimed at slowing the flow of deadly fentanyl into the United States. The two leaders reached the joint agreement at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, California.
Under terms of the agreement, China will clamp down on chemical companies to halt the manufacture and export of the precursor materials used to make fentanyl. The U.S. and China will also restart bilateral cooperation on counter-narcotics and create a counter-narcotics working group to discuss and exchange information on law enforcement efforts.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a lead cosponsor of the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, says the Biden-Xi agreement will help save lives and curb the flow of fentanyl into the United States.
“This agreement has the potential to help save lives, attack the problem at the source, and dismantle fentanyl trafficking networks. President Biden is taking bold action to address this crisis, strengthening collaboration to counter drug traffickers and those who profit by providing the ingredients. While this is a positive step forward, we will need to ensure that China lives up to its end of the deal,” said Reed, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The fight against fentanyl presents significant challenges and requires international cooperation, including with China.
Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opiate, and is linked to more deaths of Americans under the age of 50 than any other cause. Its abuse and illicit trafficking have triggered a public health and security crisis in many countries, requiring international cooperation to effectively address this problem.
Fentanyl was responsible for the majority of overdoses that killed a record 110,000 Americans last year – including 434 Rhode Islanders. Often, overdose victims had no clue the drug they were ingesting was laced with fentanyl.
Under the Biden Administration, the United States has increased pressure on drug cartels in Mexico that manufacture fentanyl from precursor chemicals made in China and smuggle it through border points of entry into the U.S. Both the U.S. and Mexico have pressured China to do more to control exports of fentanyl precursor chemicals.
Reed is also urging Congress to pass an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that includes an additional $1.55 billion in emergency spending to combat fentanyl trafficking and counter the scourge of fentanyl in communities across the country.
The Fend Off Fentanyl Act, which Reed helped bass through the U.S. Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would:
Require the President to sanction transnational criminal organizations and drug cartels’ key members engaged in international fentanyl trafficking.
Enable the President to use proceeds of forfeited, sanctioned property of fentanyl traffickers to further law enforcement efforts.
Enhance the ability to enforce sanctions violations thereby making it more likely that people who defy U.S. law will be caught and prosecuted.
Allow the U.S. Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.
Require the Treasury Department to prioritize fentanyl-related suspicious transactions and include descriptions of drug cartels’ financing actions in Suspicious Activity Reports.
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