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Fentanyl – How It Gets Into the U.S.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is often illegally manufactured and distributed, and it has been a major contributor to the opioid epidemic in the United States. It killed more people last year than any other drug, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In fact, it was responsible for more than 60% of all opioid overdose deaths in the US in 2020, highlighting the severity of the crisis and the urgent need for action to address this issue.

The sources of it coming into the U.S. are diverse and constantly evolving, but some of the major sources include:

  1. China: The majority of the illicit drug and its analogs entering the US are believed to originate from China. These drugs are often sold over the internet and shipped through international mail services or smuggled into the US through other means.
  2. Mexico: It is also being smuggled into the US from Mexico, where it is often mixed with other drugs like heroin or cocaine. Mexican drug cartels have also been known to produce and distribute the drug and its analogs.
  3. Canada: While the amount of the drug coming into the US from Canada is relatively small, it is still a significant source . It is often smuggled across the border hidden in vehicles or through mail services.
  4. Domestic production: It is also being illegally produced in the US by drug trafficking organizations, often using precursor chemicals imported from China. This domestic production is particularly concerning because it can be difficult to detect and shut down.

It is important to note that the sources are constantly changing, and law enforcement and public health officials must remain vigilant to prevent the continued spread of this dangerous drug.

What to do

Reducing the amount of this synthetic drug coming into the United States is a complex challenge that requires a multi-faceted approach involving law enforcement, public health officials, and international cooperation. Here are some steps that can be taken to reduce the amount coming into the US:

  1. Strengthen border control: Increased investment in border control measures can help to prevent the smuggling this and other drugs into the US. This can include enhanced screening technologies, increased personnel and resources for border control agencies, and improved coordination between domestic and international law enforcement agencies.
  2. Target international sources of production: The majority it is believed to originate from China, so targeting the sources of production in China through diplomatic and economic pressure may help to reduce the amount coming into the US. This can include working with Chinese authorities to crack down on illicit drug production and distribution, and collaborating on international efforts to control the supply of precursor chemicals used to make it.
  3. Increase public awareness: Educating the public about the dangers of this drug and other synthetic opioids can help to reduce demand for these drugs and decrease their use. This can include public health campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the risks, and providing information on safe drug use practices and harm reduction strategies.
  4. Support addiction treatment and recovery: Expanding access to addiction treatment and recovery services can help to reduce the demand it by providing individuals with the resources and support they need to overcome addiction. This can include increasing funding for addiction treatment programs, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, and supporting recovery services that help individuals to rebuild their lives after addiction.

Reducing the amount coming into the US is a challenging task, but by implementing a comprehensive approach that addresses both the supply and demand for these drugs, progress can be made in combating the opioid epidemic and saving lives.


In conclusion, illegal fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that has contributed to the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States. It is primarily produced overseas, with China being the primary source entering the US. However, it is also being produced domestically, making the issue about distribution a complex and multifaceted problem. Reducing the amount coming into the US will require a coordinated effort from law enforcement, public health officials, and the public. This can include strengthening border control measures, targeting international sources of production, increasing public awareness, and supporting addiction treatment and recovery services. By taking these steps, progress can be made in reducing the harm caused it and addressing the ongoing opioid epidemic in the US.

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