Buchanan Praises New Anti-Drug Office in China
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today praised the Drug Enforcement Administration’s new office in China aimed at reducing the flow of deadly opioids into Southwest Florida and the rest of the United States.
China is the primary source for fentanyl and related synthetic drugs coming into America, according to the DEA. Buchanan’s district has been hit hard by heroin and fentanyl overdoses, with Manatee County experiencing the highest number of fentanyl-related deaths in Florida.
“Chinese drug dealers are killing Americans at an alarming rate,” Buchanan said. “The DEA presence in China will help save lives here in Florida and across the country.”
The planned new office in the city of Guangzhou will likely be staffed with two special agents, according to the DEA. Fentanyl and carfentanil are related synthetic drugs similar to heroin but 50 times more powerful. These deadly drugs are often manufactured in foreign countries like China and mailed into the United States.
“As the drug epidemic expands, our efforts to fight back must also expand,” Buchanan said. “It’s clear that in the case of fentanyl, we need to go after the pushers where they live.”
Experts have cautioned the synthetic drugs, which are odorless and colorless and therefore more difficult to detect, are now being mixed with heroin by dealers to boost profit margins and give a more potent and potentially deadly high for users.
These substances can come in several forms, including powder, tablets, and spray and can be absorbed through the skin or by accidental inhalation. A lethal dose of fentanyl can be as small as two or three grains of salt, according to the DEA.
Fentanyl and carfentanil are both so hazardous that first responders often wear protective gear when responding to a crime scene where the synthetic drugs may be present.
In Florida, fentanyl-related deaths increased by 77.6 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medical Examiners Commission.
Buchanan co-sponsored legislation last month aimed at fighting the flow of fentanyl and similar drugs into the country. The Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act will require greater screening at U.S. Postal Service facilities.
The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the opioid crisis in Florida. Last May, Buchanan chaired a hearing examining the impact of addiction on kids. He also hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders in 2016. Buchanan also chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from anti-drug experts. Buchanan serves as co-chair of the Florida delegation. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the DEA adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.