WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, today in a hearing questioned Ambassador Todd Robinson, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and Ambassador Brian Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, about the escalating fentanyl problem in the United States and its origination from Communist China.
“The fentanyl problem that’s plaguing the United States is getting worse… In Tennessee, overdose rates for individuals who are aged 25 to 34 has skyrocketed from 4.8 per 100,000 in 2015 to 37.6 per 100,000 in 2019. And every time I am home, I hear from local sheriffs that it’s gotten much worse this year,” Senator Hagerty noted.
To further underline the magnitude of the crisis, Hagerty referenced a recent interview with Tennessee’s former opioid czar in Memphis’s Commercial Appeal in which the former official stated, “I can’t remember the last time I’ve looked at a drug screening of a new patient coming off the street that didn’t have fentanyl in it.”
“Mexico is the major transit and production point for fentanyl—the fentanyl that’s coming from China before it enters the United States. While direct shipments of finished fentanyl from China to the U.S. have declined after the Trump Administration’s crack down, the amount of fentanyl shipped from Mexico has increased dramatically. And I’ve been told that more than 90 percent of that fentanyl crossing the border, at least the chemicals that are used to make it, the precursors, comes from China,” Senator Hagerty continued.
In response to Hagerty’s question about what percentage of the fentanyl coming across our border ultimately originates in China, Ambassador Robinson confirmed he did not have a specific number, but that “a great percentage comes from China.”
Hagerty urged the Ambassadors to provide estimates.
“If you would commit to putting together an estimate for me and for this committee, how much of this fentanyl is coming from China? What percentage of it is coming from China, whether it’s precursor or actual fentanyl coming across the border into America annually, and how much of it specifically can be a traced to China,” Senator Hagerty asked.
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