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Biden, Xi Commit To Fentanyl Fight, But Doubts Persist On Curbing Deadly Flow


President Joe Biden announced in a Wednesday press conference that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had reached an understanding to “reduce the flow of precursor chemicals and pill presses from China to the Western Hemisphere.”  

“It’s going to save lives, and I appreciate President Xi’s commitment on this issue,” Biden said.

Precursor Chemicals

Precursor chemicals used to produce fentanyl have been making their way from China to Mexican cartels for years. The Sinaloa Cartel run by the sons of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán who is serving a life sentence plus 30 years in a U.S. Supermax prison, announced in October that the cartel will no longer smuggle fentanyl into the U.S. However, as yet, there is no evidence that the cartel has stopped that activity.

Delegation To China 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and five other senators traveled to China in early October ostensibly to arrange Xi’s trip to the U.S. Though Schumer raised the issue of Chinese companies that have apparently stopped making fentanyl but continue to supply precursor chemicals to Mexico.

“They are fueling the fentanyl crisis that is poisoning communities across the United States … Every one of us knows families who have lost young men and women to fentanyl,” said Schumer at the time.

Chinese state media has called fentanyl consumption a U.S. domestic problem.

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Fentanyl: Leading Cause Of Death In U.S

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid and powerful painkiller used in surgery, is fueling an out-of-control overdose crisis in the U.S. where more than 100,000 people died in 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC has reported that fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and that a minuscule amount, like less than two milligrams “can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance, and past usage.” 

Fentanyl Seeps Into US Society

The rise of fentanyl originated with the opioid crisis that was set off by Purdue Pharma‘s pain pill OxyContin, which the company aggressively marketed while downplaying its addictiveness. The fentanyl epidemic exploded when OxyContin became scarce due to lawsuits against Purdue and people began turning to heroin and eventually to fentanyl.

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