Shumer Sees Fentanyl Sanctions Act Passed
To confront what he terms as inaction by China’s government on the trafficking of fentanyl to the United States, where it is killing thousands in opioid overdoses, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, has seen his Fentanyl Sanctions Act passed by the U.S. Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
The senator’s bill would hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor its commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal. Additionally, the legislation would provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries.
“We must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our Senate-passed, bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,” Schumer said. “The opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities across the country. In New York State, from November 2017 to 2018, approximately 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose. About 1,500 of those deaths were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Our legislation is critical in this fight to shut down the lethal fentanyl mills in China and elsewhere and to save American lives, and I hope to announce soon that this bill will be signed into law.”
Specifically, the legislation would:
¯ Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
¯ Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Department of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
¯ Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic opioid traffickers.
¯ Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.
Schumer explained that according to the Centers for Disease Control, between November 2017 and 2018 roughly 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose in New York state. Additionally, Schumer said that about 1,500 of those opioid overdose deaths were from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
Following a commitment to the U.S. at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1, 2019, that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1, 2019. China has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of the illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis. To ensure accountability, Senators Schumer, Cotton, Brown, Crapo, Menendez, Toomey, Rubio, Shaheen, Cornyn, Markey, Capito, Peters, Feinstein, and Blackburn’s sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries.