Kirsten D. Madison
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 6, 2019
We are all painfully aware of the devastating impact of the opioids crisis in our country. To put it into perspective: at the peak of the ‘70s heroin crisis and the late ‘80s/early ‘90s crack cocaine crisis, we were losing approximately 3,000 to 4,000 Americans in a year to overdose deaths. In 2017, there were over 70,000 fatal drug overdoses, with two thirds of those linked to opioids, particularly fentanyl.
As you heard from President Trump, most of the opioids are coming from China — which is why the President has personally pressed his Chinese counterpart to work with us to stem this deadly tide. President Xi has made the commitment – now we are engaged in the effort to hold his government to it.
With fentanyl from China mixed into the drug supply, criminals have not only significantly increased profits, but also potency.
Next week, I will lead the U.S. delegation –a broad federal team — to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna where we will be working to secure more international controls of deadly synthetics, shaping the future of international drug policy, and gathering partners to help us narrow the space in which drug traffickers operate globally.
Today’s drug crisis, turbocharged by globalization and new technology, is not like the threats of old. Increasingly, synthetics are being sold on the dark net and paid for with anonymizing crypto currencies. They are dropped in the mail or consignment shipped into the small towns of America. It is a perniciously accessible and diffuse supply chain. This dynamic threat means that we need to work in innovative ways with like-minded partners across the globe.