Chinese and Mexican Criminal Entities Team Up to Traffick a New Drug Capable of Doing Great Harm to Americans

A new drug is beginning to wreak havoc throughout America.

Hollie McKay of CNS News covered the rise of isotonitazene and its deleterious effects stateside.

“In the last twelve months, I have seen a number of overdose cases, where the person isn’t responding at all to the Naloxone, which made us realize this wasn’t fentanyl,” an anti-drug campaigner based in California observed. The activist’s reference to Naloxone is relevant, because this is a nasal spray used on people who suspectedly overdose on fentanyl. It’s often referred to as a miracle medicine by paramedics, literally capable of bringing overdose victims back to life.

“And fentanyl wasn’t showing up in blood tests or autopsy reports,” the activist continued, who maintained anonymity. “We realized this was isotonitazene.”

American efforts to restrict the importation of fentanyl, which McKay observes is “brewed by cartels south of the border with precursor ingredients shipped in from China, especially Shanghai” has incentivized criminal actors in China and Mexico to develop a deadlier synthetic drug that still remains legal in Europe and North America.

In June of 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Justice classified “iso” as a Schedule 1 drug, which generally means it will “most likely lead to drug abuse.” Curiously, etonitazene, a similar compound, is treated as a controlled substance in America. However, iso remains “legal given that its structure differs mildly and a case against it has not been brought forward.”

“Isotonitazene is another deadly synthetic opioid made in Chinese labs which are contributing to the escalating death rates in America,” stated Derek Maltz, a former agent who headed the DEA’s Special Operations Division. “Intelligence indicates the isotonitazene is being sold through the Internet by the Chinese transnational criminals and they are using networks in Canada as well to import the lethal drugs into the U.S.A.”

“The cartels are interested in making huge profits from drug trafficking, so it’s anticipated they will be distributing iso as well as the fentanyl,” he added. “It’s all about maximizing the profits with the cartels. Since isotonitazene is deadly, this is a very dangerous trend that is very underreported.”

Towards the end of 2019, iso arrived on the scene in a deadly fashion, which McKay outlined:

Around the end of 2019 the yellowish powder began to show up in phony pain pills, or mixed in with heroin or cocaine. Chemicals in iso, according to experts interviewed for this article, are often used by pharmaceutical companies and scientists to develop effective pain management medications.

Iso is no joke and is quite lethal. A report published by the Drug Testing and Analysis journal in 2019 revealed that iso is considerably more dangerous than fentanyl. McKay put this in perspective: “[Fentanyl] is already 100 times stronger than morphine.”

Maltz believes that because iso does not have a well-established reputation in the US, the “Chinese transnational crime groups are beating the system and taking advantage of the weak and antiquated laws in the U.S.”

“They are making these deadly compounds and shipping to customers in several parts of the world,” he stated. “Many Americans have died and will continue to die from ingesting these lethal synthetic opioids. The death rates are already off the charts and at record levels.”

According to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, in a 12-month period that ended in July 2020, over 81,000 people succumbed to drug overdoses, a record-breaking number for a year-long period. However, there are no specific numbers for deaths caused by “iso.”

One psychiatry and addiction medicine specialist, Dr. Antonio De Filippo, argues that iso caused at least 40-50 overdoses on a monthly basis from the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020.

The rise of iso shows how Chinese and Mexican criminal actors are capable of finding ways to develop alternative paths for transporting their contraband to the US. Ed Calderon, a former member of Mexican law enforcement and a respected authority on the narcotics trade, claimed that various routes are still being used to reach the southern border. These range from the use of large tunnels to drone drops to mules wearing backpacks.

Even with the shutdown of many supply routes during the pandemic, Calderon called attention to how Chinese and Mexican criminal syndicates operate in Manzanillo, a prominent port along Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Colima.

“China has represented the main direct or indirect, legal or illegal supplier, and Mexico has become a producer, distributor and country of transit of the narcotic since 2013,” outlined a report from Fortress Risk Management, a security and risk management firm.

Fortress Risk Management expanded on how this problem won’t be going away soon.

“Mexico does not have the logistical capacities that imply human, technical, technological and financial resources to be able to inhibit the illegal opioid traffic and in contrast,” said the Fortress Risk Management analysis. “China operates a high volume of exports to different countries through millions of containers, which makes it difficult to inspect each one of them.”

Nothing more needs to be said about Mexico’s inability to maintain internal stability. Previously, BLP covered the growing cooperation between Mexican and Chinese actors in drug trafficking activity that inevitably lands in the US.

No doubt border security at home, not the US providing border security to foreign countries, should be the number one priority for any serious administration. The US government has prioritized the interests of foreign countries for too long. It’s time for a political class that actually upholds the national interest because Americans’ health and well-being will greatly depend on it.

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