China gifted the world with COVID-19, but another pandemic is looming – the fentanyl pandemic. Considering fresh data, hourly upticks, China’s statements, and Biden Administration’s failure to preempt rising fentanyl overdoses, 2023 may be a breakout year.
Unfortunately, after 108,000 overdose deaths in 2021, most opioids, a majority traceable to fentanyl, 2022 is on track for a similar number, and 2023 may represent a dark turning point.
What evidence exists that China is behind this surge? Why might 2023 be a breakout year – for fentanyl trafficking, abuse, addiction, overdoses, and related crime?
Nine factors make the case. Current fentanyl numbers, breaking news, poly-drug links, new distribution patterns, border policies, related crime, Biden’s disinterest, and China’s claims. Bluntly, China is full throttle behind this crisis.
Current fentanyl numbers. Putting fentanyl addiction and overdoses in perspective is hard. No drug more quickly takes the will, then life, than fentanyl. Very small quantities – a grain – can be dangerous. In 2021, 56,516 deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids other than methadone, chiefly fentanyl, but this is incomplete. Uncounted are suicides, accidents, and poly-drug deaths.
Beyond death, fentanyl use jumped 63 percent from 2015 to 2021, fentanyl inhalation 427 percent, injection use 42 percent. “Co-use” of fentanyl with meth rose by 669 percent, cocaine 374 percent, heroin 159 percent, and reports jumped of fentanyl-laced marijuana in high schools are up.
Breaking news. Snapshots are important, and you can take one now. Within the past hour – writing this column – stories popped on fentanyl as follows: (1) “US Seizes Enough Fentanyl in 2022 to Kill Every American” (BBC), (2) US Drug Agency Doubles Its Catch of Fentanyl-laced Pills in 2022” (New York Times), (3) “DEA Seizes 2000 Fentanyl Pills Hidden in Hollowed-out Dictionary” (CBS), (4) “Crime Prevention Group Targeting Snapchat Over fentanyl Sales” (KTLA), (5) “San Jose Dealer Accused of Selling Fentanyl …” (KRON), (6) “Fentanyl On Campus…” (Mercury News), (7) “Child Found Holding Bag of Fentanyl in Car…” (News & Observer), (8) “Former Fentanyl Addict Discusses Addiction…” (Fox), and the list goes on.
The point is that, in a phrase, fentanyl is everywhere – in every region, state, country, and city. News tied to fentanyl crimes, addiction, death, and the trail of grief it leaves is unending.
New distribution links. Unfortunately, fentanyl is like a MIRV-capable ICBM – an intercontinental missile that splits apart and just keeps falling. In this case, fentanyl came as one drug, split into hundreds, shows up as other drugs, candy, and food. Fentanyl on other drugs, candy, and food is commonplace – and deadly.
Border policies. Need we say anything here? Drug traffickers – especially trafficking Chinese fentanyl and fentanyl made from Chinese precursors shipped to Mexico – are having afield day. Biden’s border is a living nightmare, swarming with human and drug traffickers, fentanyl first.
Related crime. At 80 times more potent than morphine, fentanyl is deadly on its own – but when crimes committed to traffic and buy it are added, the drug is incalculably more dangerous. Some studies suggest 42 percent of homicides – at a record in many cities – are drug related.
Biden’s low priority. As foreboding as China’s undeclared war, via fentanyl, is the Biden Administration’s belief that words, gestures, silence, and serendipity will stop the fentanyl pandemic. Bloated “strategies,” useless “harm reduction” (“responsible use of drugs”), untargeted prevention, defunding police, legalizing gateways, and ignoring it do not work.
A global search for any on camera statement by Biden about fentanyl comes up empty. The official readout of his meeting with President Xi makes no mention of drugs. Biden has spoken more about Russia collusion, transgenders, and MAGA’s threat to America, than fentanyl.
To face the confrontation China is setting up – across all domains, not least fentanyl – as if there were no confrontation, no crisis, no reason to throw down, demand action, punish inaction is mindboggling. Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43 all saw the drug dangers clearly.
China’s latest declaration.
Perhaps the most convincing indication of a coming fentanyl pandemic in America, like the overhang of a runaway border crisis, is China’s own statements. As reported last week, they care nothing about cooperation on this issue – and claim no power to do anything to stop it, blaming US demand. The Biden response as been ineffective, unavailing, and hollow.
So here is a plan: Make this a priority, elevate the families and kids at risk – which are the whole country. If Biden can warn of a snow blizzard, then do an Oval office address about fentanyl – and turn the power of diplomacy, justice, education, and treatment on this problem. Now is the time, 2023 is the year, and there are no more excuses.
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