Fentanyl crisis: DEA spokesman says Mexico needs to do more to stop US drug production

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Mexico needs to do more to help fight fentanyl crisis it’s haunting America, the head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration told Bill Hemmer in an interview with Fox News.

“We know that the vast, vast majority of them come from Mexico, and we know that they are synthesized openly,” Ann Milgram, DEA administrator, told the American Newsroom Friday.

“And so Mexico — they know it’s happening, we know it’s happening, and they need to work to stop it.”

According to a DEA intelligence report, the fentanyl crisis began nearly a decade ago with its illegal distribution in North America in 2014. The ecosystem of production and distribution of the drug has since become increasingly complex, with India and China taking part in this process.

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Mexico attracts attention with its proximity to the United States, but China plays a major role in the fentanyl supply chain. In 2019, the Drug Enforcement Administration named China “the leading source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances entering the United States via international mail…and the leading source of all fentanyl-related substances entering the United States.”

Ann Milgram, administrator of the DEA, speaks at a press conference to announce extradition and disclosure of indictment accusing former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez of being involved in cocaine importation conspiracy and related firearms crimes in Washington , April 21, 2022.

Ann Milgram, administrator of the DEA, speaks at a press conference to announce extradition and disclosure of indictment accusing former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez of being involved in cocaine importation conspiracy and related firearms crimes in Washington , April 21, 2022.
(Win McNamee/Pool via Reuters)

“The chemicals come from China,” Milgram said. “Then they are made in Mexico and they are made openly all over the country, and just to make it clear, last year we seized 20 million counterfeit pills and 15,000 pounds of fentanyl.”

“It 440 million potential lethal doses of fentanyl which we already confiscated last year,” she added. “We have already seized more than 20 million counterfeit pills so far this year.”

This increasingly diverse international fentanyl ecosystem makes the crisis much more difficult to address. The US has to rely on cooperation with these other countries, with mixed results.

According to a 2020 Brookings report, Beijing was working to ban 175 chemicals associated with the production of synthetic drugs, 26 of which were related to fentanyl and several were “precursors”. But cooperation between law enforcement agencies in China and Mexico, as well as with the US, remains minimal.

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Milgram discussed two major Mexican drug cartels responsible for much of the distribution of fentanyl in the US: Sinaloa and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which she said poisoned Americans at a “record rate.”

“We lost 107,622 Americans last year,” she explained. These two cartels are primarily responsible for the fentanyl and methamphetamine that are flooding the United States and killing people.”

“These two cartels mainly operate from China, where they buy these chemicals that they use now to manufacture fentanyl and methamphetamine,” she continued. “These are no longer herbal drugs. This is a different and deadlier drug threat than we have ever seen in our country.”

The international nature of the problem makes it difficult for the US authorities to solve it without the help of foreign allies. Derek Maltz, former director DEA Special Operations Divisiontold Fox News Digital that education remains the best tool the agency has to deal with the crisis on the home front.

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“Education is critical, but more importantly, we are investing a lot of money in the fight against opioid addiction, and the White House has come up with new strategies to provide a lot of resources to fight opioid addiction, which is great because we need to treat people, which are dependent,” Maltz explained.

“We need mental health services people who are addicted. “We must help rehabilitate people who are addicted to opioids,” he added. “But you will never treat or raise a 13-year-old child in a morgue. It’s too late. So we need to have more of a sense of urgency.”

Milgram affirmed the importance of educating the public and preparing parents to discuss the issue with their children, especially as fentanyl is a “werewolf” that can appear “in any drug”.

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“[The cartels] deliberately trying to deceive [your children] in buying something that they think is OxyContin, Percocet, and it’s not,” she said, “it’s fentanyl, and one pill can kill, one use can kill. And we see it every single day.”