To combat worldwide fentanyl trafficking, the Treasury Department sanctioned 25 Chinese individuals and businesses on Tuesday. One person and two Canadian companies were accused of smuggling Chinese drug-making ingredients. Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 50 times stronger than heroin, produced the greatest drug epidemic in U.S. history, killing 109,680 people in 2022.
Fentanyl Supply to Ban
The Treasury Department’s action followed the Justice Department’s Tuesday charging of eight Chinese businesses and 12 executives with selling precursor chemicals for drug production, including fentanyl. Top U.S. authorities said Chinese people have given Mexican drug gangs such chemicals and helped them elude border police by using bogus shipping labels and other deceptions. More than 27,000 pounds of fentanyl were captured by U.S. border agents in fiscal year 2023, almost double the amount last year.
In a Tuesday speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “We know who is responsible for poisoning the American people with fentanyl.” This global fentanyl supply chain, which kills Americans, generally begins with Chinese chemical corporations. The Biden administration’s second significant fentanyl charge of Chinese businesses follows June’s arrest of four Chinese companies and eight people. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has also asked Beijing to ban fentanyl imports.
China has denied Washington’s charges, blaming the US for the drug epidemic and stating that the accusations and sanctions are meant to harm China’s reputation rather than address a public health emergency. China’s foreign ministry declared on Wednesday that “sanctions and pressure cannot solve the United States’ problems.” The cooperation between China and the United States on drug control will be hindered.
Iranian Weapons Confiscated
Austria suspended Schengen on Wednesday, joining other nations. Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland will enforce strict border restrictions for 10 days to combat illegal immigration, human trafficking, and smuggling. Slovak Prime Minister Ludovit Odor urged other European governments to develop a migrant crisis solution. Germany and France have approved ad hoc border checks to combat smuggling in recent weeks. About a quarter of Schengen members now have border controls, negating the policy’s main goal of visa-free travel for 27 states. On Wednesday, the Kremlin reported Russian military shot down 31 Ukrainian drones on Tuesday. No injuries or damage were recorded. The strike was Ukraine’s heaviest cross-border drone attack since Russia invaded in February 2022, amid global criticism of Kyiv’s tardy counteroffensive.
On Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said Ukraine will get thousands of confiscated Iranian weapons and ammunition. Over 1 million rounds of Iranian ammunition, acquired in July, were given to Ukraine on Monday. This weaponry will supplement U.S. help to Ukraine while President Joe Biden fights conservative lawmakers over another military aid deal. After two PKK members bombed a government facility in Turkey’s capital on Sunday, Turkish officials held a national security summit on Wednesday to punish the group. At the conference, officials declared all PKK and YPG infrastructure and energy sites in Iraq and Syria as military targets.
The gathering follows the detention of over 900 persons for illegal weapons and 90 for PKK ties. Ankara considers the group a terrorist organization, and police searches throughout 64 regions led to numerous arrests.