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The US Treasury has placed sanctions on 25 Chinese individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in drug manufacturing and smuggling, as Washington steps up efforts to crack down on the proliferation of fentanyl.
Treasury said it was disrupting a China-based network that is responsible for making and distributing fentanyl, methamphetamine and ingredients to make ecstasy. It also put sanctions on one person and two groups in Canada that had allegedly imported drugmaking chemicals from China.
“Treasury is taking sweeping action with our colleagues in law enforcement to expose and disrupt a network responsible for manufacturing and distributing illicit drugs, including fentanyl and other substances that take thousands of American lives each year,” Wally Adeyemo, deputy Treasury secretary, said in a statement.
Adeyemo said the sanctions reflected how the Biden administration would “swiftly use all of our tools to counter the global threat posed by the illicit drug trade”.
In addition to the sanctions, the US justice department unsealed eight indictments against China-based companies and employees in connection with the production and distribution of fentanyl and methamphetamine.
“The global fentanyl supply chain, which ends with the deaths of Americans, often starts with chemical companies in China,” said US attorney-general Merrick Garland. “The US government is focused on breaking apart every link in that chain, getting fentanyl out of our communities, and bringing those who put it there to justice.”
The action comes with US-China relations in their worst state for decades. The two sides have been negotiating to try to find a way to reduce the amount of fentanyl precursors coming to the US from China, but have failed to reach any agreement.
Treasury said the targets were also involved in the global trafficking of “highly potent” xylazine and nitazenes chemicals mixed with illicit fentanyl — a synthetic opioid linked to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans that is 50 times more potent than heroin.
One target was Du Changgen, a Chinese national whom Treasury said maintained the greatest influence over an illicit drug syndicate in China. It said the network was capable of synthesising multi-thousand-kilogramme quantities of the drugs and was responsible for 900kg of seized precursor drugs sent to the US and Mexico. Treasury said Du and his team supplied the chemicals to groups including the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.
Four months ago US federal prosecutors for the first time indicted Chinese nationals and groups for manufacturing and supplying the precursor drugs used to make fentanyl.
Beijing has previously cracked down on Chinese groups supplying fentanyl. More recently entities in China have shifted to supplying the precursor drugs to cartels in Mexico, which then manufacture fentanyl and other illicit drugs.
The Chinese embassy in the US that sanctions would “only add more obstacles” to US-China co-operation on counter-narcotics. ‘Such moves hurt others as well as the US itself,” said Liu Pengyu, the embassy spokesperson.
The Chinese embassy in the US said that sanctions would “only add more obstacles” to US-China co-operation on counter-narcotics. “Such moves hurt others as well as the US itself,” said Liu Pengyu, the embassy spokesperson.
Source: Financial Times