By Daphne Psaledakis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on 17 individuals and entities based in China and Mexico that it accused of allowing the production of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, as the Biden administration seeks to stem imports of the deadly drug.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement that it had imposed sanctions on seven entities and six people based in China, as well as one company and three people based in Mexico.
He accused those targeted of being involved in the sale of pill presses and other equipment used to print counterfeit trademarks on illicitly produced pills, often mixed with fentanyl and destined for the United States.
“Treasury sanctions target every step of the deadly supply chain that is fueling the spike in fentanyl poisonings and deaths across the country,” said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. , in the press release.
“Counterfeit pills containing fentanyl are a leading cause of these deaths, devastating thousands of American families every year. We remain committed to using all authorities against the enablers of illicit drug production to disrupt this deadly global production. and counter the threat posed by these drugs.”
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl has more than tripled in the United States from 2016 to 2021, according to a report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published earlier this this month.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and is increasingly being mixed with other illicit drugs, often with deadly results.
The Biden administration has been pushing for action as drug-related overdose deaths in the United States topped 100,000 in 2021, according to government estimates.
Washington has asked for greater help from Beijing to stem the illicit flow of fentanyl ‘precursor’ chemicals from China, but US officials told Reuters their Chinese counterparts are reluctant to cooperate as relations between the two countries are straining. are deteriorated.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sharon Singleton)