AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis
As Governor Greg Abbott continues his standoff with the Biden administration over Texas’s right to protect its borders, images of thousands of illegal immigrants flooding across the Rio Grande have dominated newsreels. But often missed in this coverage is how the migrant crisis has also exacerbated the ongoing opioid and fentanyl epidemic that is devastating American communities.
The United States saw its most overdose deaths ever in 2023 – more than 112,000. That figure represented a 65 percent jump from the roughly 68,000 overdose deaths in 2018, and a staggering 133 percent jump from the roughly 48,000 deaths in 2014.
Much of that increase has come since the pandemic, as overdose deaths skyrocketed following a moderate but steady decline during the Trump years. According to CDC estimates, opioid deaths increased by 38 percent from January 2020 to June 2023.
Much of this increase in deaths has been driven by a proliferation of deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. Louise Vincent, a self-described “harm-reduction activist” told NPR that she has seen “an entire community swept away” by fentanyl.
“I can’t even think of all the people I know who have died,” Vincent said. “My daughter died. Our mentors are dead. It is so dangerous right now.”
The Biden administration’s policies on two fronts – the border crisis and China – have directly exacerbated this crisis.
With Border Patrol officials stretched beyond the breaking point as thousands of migrants pour into the country every day, drug cartels have taken full advantage by ramping up their smuggling operations. Customs and Border Patrol agents seized an astonishing 850 percent more fentanyl in Fiscal Year 2023 compared to Fiscal Year 2019 – a sign that, according to border agents, means dramatically more of the stuff escaped detection and is now being sold to drug users throughout the country.
Much of the fentanyl now wreaking havoc on American families and communities comes from China, which has done virtually nothing to shut down the Chinese factories that produce fentanyl and fentanyl precursors (the ingredients to make the drug). Although Chinese President Xi Jinping has repeatedly pledged to crack down on fentanyl production in meetings with Biden, those promises have proven entirely empty.
A Treasury Department report published last October names 12 official Chinese firms as producers and suppliers of fentanyl and precursors which makes their way to American streets. According to the report, one Chinese entity was responsible for exporting nearly 2,000 pounds of fentanyl and methamphetamine ingredients to the United States and Mexico.
Hebei Guanlang Biotechnology, Jinhu Minsheng Pharmaceutical Machinery, and Jiangsu Bangdeya New Material Technology, are just a few examples of legally registered firms in China which are involved in production of chemicals and ingredients of the common drugs, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, that have links to Mexican gangs like the Sinaloa Cartel.
Dr. Yunteng Qian, who defected in the late 1980s as a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official involved in the trafficking of narcotics and forged currencies, told me in an interview that Western politicians need to understand that the CCP has no intention of helping fight the opioid crisis and in fact is interested in making it worse.
Since Mao, he explained, the Chinese Communist Party has engaged in political warfare against the West, which focused primarily on demoralizing, sickening, and ultimately killing the youngest generations of Westerners by unleashing a flood of addictive drugs. “They think it is the easiest way to win,” Qian said.
From this perspective, he continued, it was pointless to appeal to Xi Jinping, as Biden has done, to help stop drug trafficking. “It is naïve, he won’t help.”
In fact, the problem may be about to get much, much worse, as some medical professionals are warning about a new “monster drug” that could be even more deadly than fentanyl.
The drug is actually a class of substances known as “nitazenes” which were developed as a potential alternative to morphine 60 years ago but discarded due to their high potential for overdose. The stuff, which is sometimes referred to by street dealers as “hearse,” “atco,” or “show and tell,” is now popping up in communities throughout the United States and Western Europe.
The British National Crime Agency has reported that the street version of nitazenes could be up to 10 times stronger than fentanyl. Doctors are warning that because the drug is very difficult to detect in the bloodstream, the risk of delayed diagnosis and thus death in the case of an overdose is significantly higher.
In Colorado, Boulder County officials confirmed that at least two people died of a nitazenes overdose in the second half of 2023. The drug has been linked to at least 54 deaths in the United Kingdom, with British authorities telling the BBC that they believe nitazenes are being produced by labs in China. Although the British authorities suggested that these labs are operating against Chinese law, the aforementioned Treasury Department report and other intelligence reports suggest that the CCP has an active hand in peddling this poison to the world.
Much like the migrant crisis, Biden has not only done nothing to stop the proliferation of fentanyl and other deadly drugs in American communities, but actively enabled the tragedy by attempting to thwart Republican efforts to secure the border. With voters passing judgement on Biden for his immigration failures, they should not forget his role in deepening the opioid epidemic as well.
Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.