Many major law enforcement agencies asserted that China was the primary source of fentanyl analogs. The fentanyl analog scare emerged after the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) seized a 1kg package of carfentanil headed into Vancouver. After receiving the package, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) held a press conference where they announced that the package originated from China. The RCMP also issued warnings about carfentanil and fentanyl’s other cousins.
For instance, carfentanil (sometimes carfentanyl) is one of the most potent opioids. A team then created the drug as a wild animal tranquilizer under the trade name Wildnil. And that is where the drug performs as intended: taking down large wild animals. Fentanyl, one of the strongest opioids approved for medical use contributed to incredibly high death rates in 2016. Sufentanil, another fentanyl analog, is ten times more potent than fentanyl—but falls far behind carfentanil in terms of potency.
The Darknet and Carfentanil
“Canadian dealers typically purchase their orders on the Internet over the ‘dark web.’ [Car]Fentanyl is usually imported in powdered form. Then mixed in Canada and pressed into tablet form,” an RCMP official reported during a carfentanil hearing.
The RCMP, CBSA, DEA, and many US Senators spoke about the issue. A former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs also voiced concerns. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said, when introducing his USPS bill at a Senate floor speech, “It [carfentanil] comes from our postal system and [China’s] postal system into the United States. Unbelievable — the poison is coming in the mail to our communities.
In another joint announcement about his proposed STOP Act (Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Protection), Sen. Portman said:
“The vast majority of these synthetic drugs are trafficked in places like China and India, often through the mail. If we need mail shipped through foreign postal services to send the same electronic advance data as private carriers like UPS or FedEx, we could save thousands of lives across the country. The STOP Act will close a gaping loophole in our mail security. And it will help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped across our borders. This common-sense policy change will save lives, and the Senate should move to consider and pass it as quickly as possible.”
In a letter to the White House and DEA, Beijing denied being the main source of fentanyl analogs. Such claims “lack the support of sufficient numbers of actual, confirmed cases,” China’s National Narcotics Control Commission told DEA’s Beijing field office. They asked the US to provide substantial evidence about China’s role in opioid importation. China similarly spoke about the lack help they received in their war against Ketamine. “China looks forward to further practical action taken by the U.S. to jointly promote the international control of ketamine,” the narcotics commission said in another letter to AP.
The DEA acknowledged that China is not the only country where carfentanil and similar synthetic opioids come from. In September, the DEA busted a pill pressing lab in Utah where the perpetrators pressed carfentanil into “oxycodone” pills. US Customs reported seizing carfentanil from Mexico as well, but Mexico revealed that much of their seized carfentanil came from China.
Currently, DEA Officer Baer said that the DEA is investigating U.S.-based darknet vendors who sell both fentanyl and its analogs. In the same node, the DEA will investigate any Chinese company or vendor that uses US servers.