Chinese Firms Targeted by New Biden Orders Meant to Curb Fentanyl, Synthetic Drugs
Deaths from fentanyl, which is largely produced in China, have overtaken heroin overdoses in the United States.
Four Chinese companies and one Chinese citizen have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, under just-announced Biden administration executive orders intended to help stem the rise of fatal overdoses of synthetic drugs.
The two executive orders announced today—“Establishing the U.S. Council on Transnational Organized Crime” and “Imposing Sanctions on Foreign Persons Involved in the Global Illicit Drug Trade”—are meant to help the government go after the makers of fentanyl, produced overwhelmingly in China.
The department announced that sanctions had been placed on 10 individuals and 15 entities in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and China. The Chinese firms are Wuhan Yuancheng Gongchuang Technology Co., Shanghai Fast-Fine Chemicals Co, Hebei Huanhao Biotechnology Co.. and Hebei Atun Trading Co. Also sanctioned was Chuen Fat Yip, whom Treasury officials said was a trafficker of “fentanyl, anabolic steroids, and other synthetic drugs to the United States, and controls a group of companies that sell compounds and fentanyl precursor chemicals to the public and to private businesses.” He also runs Wuhan Yuancheng Gongchuang Technology Co.
The orders also establish a Council on Transnational Organized Crime, and charge it with “developing whole-of-government plans to address the top transnational organized crime threats. The Strategic Division will draw on law enforcement and intelligence community information to develop comprehensive strategic plans to drive operations, initiatives, and actions across the government,” according to a White House statement.
For the past two decades, “the vast majority of counter-narcotics sanctions designations have been implemented under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act,” also called the 1999 Kingpin Act, a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday.
Since then, synthetic drugs like fentanyl, produced overwhelmingly in China, have overtaken drugs like heroin in causing deaths.
But the U.S. government hasn’t kept up with the changes: the 2020 “Majors List” of major drug-producing and drug trafficking countries, produced by the White House under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, lists Afghanistan, Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela and other countries associated with the production of heroin, opium, and cocaine—but not China.
That 1961 law applies to “the producers or traffickers [that] have cultivated or plant-based drugs and not synthetic drugs,” a second senior administration official said.
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