AG Derek Schmidt urges U.S. Department of State to increase fight against fentanyl

TOPEKA – (January 14, 2022) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has called on the U.S. State Department to increase its pressure on China to staunch the flow of deadly fentanyl reaching Kansas and the nation as a whole.

Schmidt yesterday joined a letter sent with 15 other attorneys general to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken outlining their concerns about the production and distribution of fentanyl. They are asking Blinken and the department to step up efforts to curb China’s production and exporting of fentanyl precursors and Mexico’s failure to prevent the drug’s manufacture and shipment to the United States.

“Chinese chemical manufacturers are now making and sending the raw ingredients to make fentanyl to Mexican drug cartels, which are in turn making and trafficking fentanyl at an industrial scale,” the attorneys general wrote. “But in the face of this evolving and significant problem, the federal government has seemed content to stand by. We therefore write to insist on a fulsome and urgent response to this escalating plague killing our people every day.”

Schmidt said Kansas has a strong interest in stopping the flow of deadly fentanyl into the state, where overdoses have skyrocketed. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported this month that preliminary statistics from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System showed there were 338 fatal drug overdoses between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021, a 54 percent increase from the same period in 2020. Of those Kansas deaths, 149 involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogs.

Historically, fentanyl was made in China and shipped directly to the United States. Following pressure from the federal government, China began taking action against illicit fentanyl manufacturing within its borders in 2019. However, Chinese labs ended up diverting precursor chemicals for fentanyl manufacturing to other countries, including Mexico.

Fentanyl has been smuggled into the United States from Mexico in alarming quantities. Today, most fentanyl available in the United States has been trafficked from Mexico across the U.S. Southwest border. Seizures of fentanyl at the border increased from approximately 1,187 kilograms in 2019 to approximately 2,939 kilograms in 2020. According to the U.S. Department of State, seizures of fentanyl directly shipped from China to the United States shrunk dramatically from over 128 kilograms seized in 2017 to less than half a kilogram in 2020.

A copy of the letter is available at https://bit.ly/3I1ixWe

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