Mexico and China Seek to Stem Fentanyl’s Deadly Cross-Pacific Flow

Mexico is in talks with China to stem the flow of fentanyl ingredients as the US pressures source countries to curb the opioid epidemic.

(Bloomberg) — Mexico is in talks with China to stem the flow of fentanyl ingredients as the US pressures source countries to curb the opioid epidemic. 

After a war of words earlier this year, Mexico and China have since been in conversations about the topic, and are now looking to hold a high-level meeting, according to people familiar with the discussions. 

As a first step, Mexico wants to share intelligence about shipments of the drug and its precursors across the Pacific, according to one of the people. 

China, Mexico and the US have for years traded blame over the opioid crisis, which is causing tens of thousands overdoses in the US and a growing number in Mexico. The US Drug Enforcement Administration says China is “the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the US”, but Washington’s attempts to pressure Beijing have failed to curb the flow. 

The US also accuses China of providing the precursor chemicals used by Mexican cartels to produce the drug. China’s embassy in Mexico said in May that these chemicals have legitimate uses, and said it rejects the US using fentanyl as a pretext to “bully” its southern neighbor. 

The Chinese agreed to work with Mexican authorities to identify which chemicals are being traded illegally, one of the people said. 

Earlier this year, the two countries traded blows over the issue in letters and public statements. 

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has repeatedly denied that fentanyl is made in his country, and wrote to China’s Xi Jinping in March, asking for help controlling the cargoes. China responded by denying any responsibility and said it was a US problem. 

A spokesman for Mexico’s presidency didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said that the government “is committed to cooperating with all other countries in the world to crack down on transnational criminal activities involving drugs.” 

Read more: DeSantis Vows to Send US Military to Mexico to Stop Fentanyl

Fentanyl, which is about 50 times more potent than heroin, also represents a threat to US President Joe Biden in next year’s presidential election, as Republican candidates use the crisis to attack him. 

DEA chief Anne Milgram has described fentanyl as “the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered.”

–With assistance from Eric Martin, Jacob Gu and Philip Glamann.

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