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Diplomat: China has banned fentanyl to help US with epidemic

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Nogales Commercial Facility seized nearly $4.6 million in fentanyl and methamphetamine totaling close to 650 pounds on Saturday, January 26, 2019, from a Mexican national when he attempted to enter the United States through the Port of Nogales. The seizure is the largest seizure of fentanyl in CBP history. The methamphetamine seizure represents the third largest at an Arizona port. (Jerry Glaser/Customs and Border Protection)

China is doing everything it can to stop the illegal exportation of synthetic fentanyl, the deadly drug blamed for thousands of overdose deaths in New Hampshire and across the nation.

That’s according to Jin Qian, deputy consul general from the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York.

In a wide-ranging interview on Friday with reporters and editors at the New Hampshire Union Leader, Qian said abuse of fentanyl “is not a problem in China.” But he said his nation is “using a lot of resources to fight fentanyl.”

Qian, who lives in New York with his family, said he has spoken with officials in Beijing about the drug crisis, “that it is a serious problem here in the United States, and we should do something.”

Last December, Chinese President Xi Jinping met President Donald Trump at a summit and promised to take steps to curb the flow of synthetic opioids into the U.S.

And in May, Qian said, China began regulating all fentanyl-related drugs as controlled substances. As a result, he said, “Illegal shipments are down to almost zero to the United States.”

New safeguards are also in place in this country.

The STOP (Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention) Act of 2018, requires all senders of international mail packages to provide basic information to Customs and Border Protection, including the names and addresses of both the shipper and the recipient.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., the law set a deadline of Dec. 31, 2018, for the Postal Service to collect advance electronic data on all packages mailed from China. An agency official said the postal service had reached 85% of that goal in May.

At a congressional oversight hearing in July, Gary Barksdale, chief postal inspector for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said synthetic opioids “are increasingly entering the country through means other than international mail.” Of 185 synthentic opioid parcels seized by postal inspectors in fiscal year 2019, 153 were in the domestic mail stream, he said.

The issue of fentanyl trafficking has become entwined with the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

On Aug. 23, in the same string of Twitter messages in which President Donald Trump “ordered” American companies to start looking for alternatives to China’s markets, Trump likewise said he was “ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to search for & refuse all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else).”

“President Xi said this would stop — it didn’t,” Trump tweeted.

Two days earlier, the U.S. Treasury Department had announced sanctions on three Chinese “drug kingpins” and a Chinese pharmaceutical company for running an international narcotics trafficking operation. The Chinese nationals were indicted in 2017 and 2018 in Ohio and Mississippi for manufacturing and distributing fentanyl and other drugs.

Also last month, an advisory from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) alerted financial institutions of “red flags” that identify illicit fentanyl trafficking, including money transfer to individuals in China; third-party cash deposits into the same account; use of shell companies; and transactions with “Darknet” marketplaces. The agency also reminded these institutions of their “due diligence” requirements for private banking accounts held for non-U.S. persons, designed to detect and report suspicious activity or money laundering.

Qian said the cooperation between China and the United States over the fentanyl threat is an example of how the two countries can work together to address other big problems such as climate change and counter-terrorism. “As China is becoming more and more developed, we can work together on so many issues,” he said.


© 2019 The New Hampshire Union Leader