Mexico needs to do more to help combat the fentanyl crisis that is plaguing America, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declared to the press.
“We know that the vast, vast majority of that is coming from Mexico, and we know that it is being synthesized openly,” Anne Milgram, the DEA administrator, said during an appearance Friday on “America’s Newsroom.”
“And so Mexico — they know it’s happening, we know it’s happening and they need to work to stop it.”
The fentanyl crisis started almost a decade ago with illegal distribution in North America in 2014, according to a DEA intelligence report. The ecosystem of production and distribution of the drug has grown increasingly complex since that time, with India and China playing a part in the process.
Mexico grabs the headlines with its proximity to the U.S., but China serves a primary role in the fentanyl supply chain. In 2019, the DEA labeled China “the primary source of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked through international mail … as well as the main source for all fentanyl-related substances trafficked into the United States.”
“The chemicals are coming from China,” Milgram said. “They’re then made in Mexico, and they’re made openly throughout the country, and — just to sort of put a fine point on this — last year, we seized 20 million fake pills and 15,000 pounds of fentanyl.”
“That’s 440 million potential lethal doses of fentanyl that we’ve already seized last year,” she added. “This year, to date, we’ve already seized more than 20 million fake pills.”
This increasingly diverse and international fentanyl ecosystem makes the problem of tackling the crisis that much more difficult. The U.S. has to rely on cooperation with those other nations, which has led to mixed results.
Beijing worked to ban 175 chemicals related to the production of synthetic drugs, 26 of which were fentanyl-related and several which were “precursor agents,” according to a 2020 Brookings report. But cooperation between Chinese and Mexican law enforcement — and with the U.S. — remains minimal.