Joe Biden's administration hit Tuesday, October 3, with economic sanctions a Chinese network of drug producers, including fentanyl, a very powerful opiate that causes tens of thousands of overdoses each year in the United States. The Treasury Department announced economic sanctions targeting 28 individuals and entities, including in China but also in Canada, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement.
It is "a network responsible for the manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs, including fentanyl and other substances that claim the lives of thousands of Americans each year," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in the statement. This network then sells the manufactured products to cartels based in Mexico, and widely uses cryptocurrencies for their trade, according to the Treasury.
110,000 deaths related to overdoses or overdoses
As of today, these individuals and entities, located in China and Canada, can no longer use the US financial system and all US citizens and residents are prohibited from transacting with them," Adeyemo said at a joint press conference with, among others, Justice Minister Merrick Garland. from 14:15 (18:15 GMT).
Indeed, actions have been taken, in parallel, by the Ministry of Justice. The subject was even one of the priorities addressed by US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo during her visit to China at the end of August.
From March 2022 to March 2023, the United States counted 110,000 overdose-related deaths, two-thirds of which were due to fentanyl use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Wally Adeyemo said the Treasury had "identified and blocked more than a dozen virtual currency wallets associated with these players," and "which received millions of dollars in funds on hundreds of deposits, (illustrating) the scope and scale of the operation."
White House Priorities
The fight against fentanyl is one of the White House's priorities. This powerful synthetic opioid, up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and which has flooded the drug market in the United States, is indeed the main cause of overdoses in the country. Among teens, overdose deaths jumped 94 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to the CDC, which attributes this phenomenon in part to the greater "availability of illegally produced synthetic fentanyl."
Adeyemo said he had asked to "expand" those targeted by the sanctions, "to include friends, family members and affiliates of criminals who benefit from the sale of these drugs. If you benefit from the proceeds of this illicit activity, we will attack your property."
The subject of drugs in general is also among the campaign topics for the presidential election in November 2024. Several Republican candidates have promised, if elected, to use the military for strikes against drug cartels in Mexico. The administration announced at the end of August more than $ 450 million in additional funding to fight the overdose crisis in the United States.