Chinese Online Sales Fuel U.S. Fentanyl Crisis as UK Faces Nitazene Deaths

Chinese online sales reps fueling deadly opioid crisis in US and UK, with China accused of subsidizing illicit drug trade despite denials.

author-image
Aqsa Younas Rana
New Update
Chinese Online Sales Fuel U.S. Fentanyl Crisis as UK Faces Nitazene Deaths

Chinese Online Sales Fuel U.S. Fentanyl Crisis as UK Faces Nitazene Deaths

Chinese online sales representatives are selling illegal synthetic opioids, fueling a drug crisis in the United States that led to over 70,000 fentanyl overdose deaths in 2022. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is facing its own crisis related to the synthetic opioid nitazene, with more than 100 deaths reported in the past nine months.

The U.S. government has long accused China of flooding the country with deadly drugs like fentanyl, a claim the Chinese government denies. However, a report by the U.S. House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party reveals that China is the ultimate geographic source of the fentanyl crisis, directly subsidizing the manufacturing and export of illicit fentanyl materials and other synthetic narcotics through tax rebates. China also awarded monetary grants to companies openly trafficking illicit fentanyl materials and other synthetic narcotics.

Many online sales representatives, like Sammy, an English language graduate, initially unaware of the deadly consequences, end up selling these drugs. Others, like Sara, are more aware of what they are selling and use methods like mislabeling packages and hiding drugs in fake packaging to smuggle them into other countries.

Why this matters: The illicit sale of synthetic opioids by Chinese online representatives is having a devastating impact, fueling drug crises and causing tens of thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. and UK. The scale of China's pharmaceutical and chemical industries makes regulating this deadly trade a significant challenge.

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr stated that the committee's report "uncovered persuasive evidence" that China's government is "knee deep" in sponsoring and facilitating the export of fentanyl precursors. The report calls for Congress to clarify the president's power to sanction those involved in drug trafficking, for the U.S. to impose financial sanctions on violators, and for the formation of a task force to address the opioid crisis. China has disputed the allegations, stating that there is no fentanyl problem in China and that the crisis in the U.S. is not caused by the Chinese side.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese online reps sell illegal synthetic opioids fueling US, UK drug crises.
  • US accuses China of subsidizing illicit fentanyl manufacturing and export.
  • Some reps unaware of deadly consequences, others use mislabeling to smuggle drugs.
  • US report calls for sanctions, task force to address opioid crisis linked to China.
  • China disputes allegations, claims no fentanyl problem within China.