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Sanctions against China could slow flow of fentanyl into U.S., Schumer says

Fentanyl was found in 57 percent of New York City overdose deaths in 2017, according to the city Health Department.

Sen. Charles Schumer unveils fentanyl sanction legislation during

Sen. Charles Schumer unveils fentanyl sanction legislation during a press conference at his Manhattan office on Sunday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The federal government should enact strong sanctions against China to stop the flow of deadly fentanyl into the country, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

Schumer unveiled a bill titled “The Fentanyl Sanctions Act,” timed to coincide with the Trump administration’s  overture to Beijing this week, saying previous commitments from the Chinese government to crack down on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, have not yielded any results.

“It is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin,” Schumer said of the highly addictive drug.

The city Health Department has reported that fentanyl was found in 57 percent of all overdose deaths in 2017, followed by heroin in 52 percent of deaths.

“Many people, when they take it, are unaware because they lace it with other drugs, particularly heroin,” Schumer said.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) across the country in 2017. The CDC said that's more deaths than from any other type of opioid.

The proposed legislation would require the Trump administration to identify foreign producers of fentanyl and take decisive measures, such as denying visas, blocking transactions with financial institutions and denying access to U.S. markets, Schumer said.

It would also provide more funds to law enforcement to fight the trafficking of synthetic opioids.

Schumer said using sanctions against China had proved successful in halting the flow of flakka, a synthetic stimulant, into the U.S.

“Sanctions worked with flakka; it can work with fentanyl,” he said.

Schumer said he was confident these measures would get the backing of Congress and President Donald Trump, despite the fact his administration is trying to hash out trade talks with China.

“Even on Russia, where President Trump doesn’t want to have sanctions on Russia, the Senate has risen to the occasion,” he said.

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