May 4, 2023

Whitehouse, Grassley Press China to Crack Down on Flow of Precursor Chemicals Fueling Illicit Fentanyl Trade

Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today urged China to take strong and decisive action to better control the flow of precursor chemicals that Mexican cartels use to manufacture illicit fentanyl.

In a letter to Xu Xueyuan, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C., Co-Chairmen Whitehouse and Grassley urged China to:

  • Expand its information sharing on the flow of non-scheduled chemicals and designer precursor chemicals;
  • Strengthen the enforcement of established agreements for the proper labeling of international chemical shipments; and
  • Implement customer due diligence standards to prevent the illicit diversion of these precursor chemicals.

“China is not doing enough to halt the stream of chemicals that Mexican drug cartels use to produce fentanyl, the destructive drug that has supercharged the opioid crisis raging in communities across America,” said Whitehouse.  “The commonsense steps that Co-Chairman Grassley and I lay out in our letter are consistent with international practice, guidelines and treaties and would, undoubtedly, save American lives.”

“The Chinese Communist Party knows full well that its deadly chemicals are being used by Mexican cartels to infect our country and poison our citizens.  It’s an evil scheme that’s killing thousands of Americans every year, including 471 Iowans who were lost in 2021 alone.  Anyone who participates in these deadly dealings ought to be held accountable,” said Grassley.

In 2021, more than 72,000 Americans died from fentanyl-related overdoses.  Mexican cartels mass-produce this deadly substance using precursor chemicals sourced from China.  While many of these chemicals have legitimate uses, China can take actions to better ensure that they are not diverted to create illicit substances bound for the United States through Mexico.

The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control has a long history of working on a bipartisan basis to crack down on illicit drug trafficking globally, while expanding addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services at home.  As Chairman of the Caucus, Whitehouse has held hearings to examine: the role of the federal government in attacking the financial networks of cartelscorruption associated with the illicit drug trade; and how drug cartels have adapted their production, trafficking, and finance schemes for the 21st Century.

Recognizing the devastating toll of addiction in Rhode Island and across the nation, Whitehouse in 2016 authored the bipartisan law guiding the federal response to the opioid addiction crisis, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

A PDF of the letter is available here

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921