President Donald Trump signs the Interdict Act -- a law to stop the flow of opioids into the United States -- in the Oval Office of the White House on January 10, 2018. File Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The White House announced new steps Wednesday to fight the arrival of synthetic opioids -- like fentanyl -- on U.S. soil, identifying several Chinese nationals as "significant narcotics traffickers."
White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway told reporters the new measures, which include increasing the sharing of information with the private sector, will better guard citizens from dangerous narcotics. She said they will keep pharmaceutical supply chains "from being hijacked" by traffickers.
The advisories highlight patterns and other information to enable companies to better identify illegal activity.
"We need the private sector partners to work with us to strengthen the supply chain," she said. "Many of these private sector partners are unwitting in their transactions ... with traffickers. These advisories cover the manufacturing, marketing, movement and money needed to spread illegal fentanyl."
Conway said traffickers are leveraging "honest markets" -- like social media, e-commerce websites and banking institutions -- to create, move and profit from the illicit trade.
After the briefing, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions for Chinese national Fujing Zheng and the Zheng Drug Trafficking Organization as significant foreign narcotics traffickers. It also sanctioned Guanghua Zheng and the Qinsheng Pharmaceutical Co. The action also named Xiaobing Yan as a trafficker.
"China is becoming the drug dealer of the United States," a senior White House official said. "That is a reputation they do not want. President Trump has been very direct with [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping]. ... They have taken the initial steps to crack down on this."
James Carroll, director of the U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy, said evidence shows nearly all illicit fentanyl and synthetic opioids are produced outside the United States.
Fighting the opioid crisis has been a priority of the Trump administration for more than two years -- and its efforts have already begun to disrupt the trade, Carroll said.
"Businesses can and should be a critical partner in this fight," he added. "The bottom line -- these advisories allow there to be a force-multiplier effect in partnering with these businesses across the country."