Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on China to prohibit the export of fentanyl, saying on Sunday that the country produces more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of the drug.
Schumer said Chinese authorities turn a blind eye to manufacturers exporting fentanyl to the U.S. His announcement came amid ongoing trade negotiations between White House and Chinese officials.
“When it comes to our best chance at taking out fentanyl and its deadly path to the United States, it is really now or never,” Schumer said in a statement. “For years, the federal government has been forced to react to the spread of fentanyl and the death toll it has taken in fueling the opioid scourge. Well, now, we have a real shot at addressing its source: China.”
Schumer said U.S. negotiators have an opportunity to pressure the Chinese government to prevent the drug from flowing over the border. He said fentanyl is often mislabeled or concealed with legitimate imports in order to get past U.S. Customs and Border Protection detection.
“This issue must be a major priority because too many lives have been lost and too many others are at stake, especially here in New York,” he added.
Schumer said fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. In 2016 alone, he said, CBP seized nearly 200 pounds of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.