The State Department will Crack Down on Opioid Import The State Department will Crack Down on Opioid Import

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State Department will Crack Down on Opioid Import

Much of the efforts to fight the opioid crisis are directed to provide resources, support and education for opioid users or demographics at risk for becoming users (like teenagers.) The Department of State is putting in the effort to address one of the core issues of the opioid epidemic.

A critical piece to stopping opioid abuse is preventing illicit opioids from being available in the first place.

As prescribing opioids becomes a more discerning process, opioid addicts may first turn to alternate sources for the drug before seeking treatment for the addiciton itself. The U.S. Department of State is aiming to stop illicit opioids that are produced overseas from being trafficked into America.

The number of overdose cases that involved synthetic opioids (mostly fentanyl) increased by nearly 640% between 2012 and 2016. In 2016 alone, over 42,000 Americans overdosed on synthetic opioids.

Two milligrams of fentanyl can potentially be lethal.

Most of the fentanyl in the US is sourced from overseas, mostly from China. The majority of heroin in the US comes from Mexico.

These drugs enter the US in a variety of ways and routes. Some are crossing the border overland. Some are shipped in through online orders, slipping through the mail system.

 The State Departments’s INL Bureau is leading U.S. efforts to partner with foreign governments in an effort to reduce illicit drugs and precursor chemicals for cooking the drugs from entering the US.

The INL Bureau is developing a strategy to disrupt the synthetic drug supply chain, in all its new and improved forms, which currently pose a challenge to traditional counternarcotics approaches.

There are new trends in the way the drugs are moved that fostered an increase in heroin use. There have also been many instances of heroin (the natural opioid) being laced with synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), without the user’s knowledge. Fentanyl and other forms of synthetic opioids can be fifty to one hundred times stronger than heroin.

There has to be a new plan that can handle drugs that are produced in secret labs, then bought and sold online, maybe with bitcoin or other virtual currencies that can’t be traced in a traditional manner. Drugs are shipped globally directly to the buyer in small packages that are hard to track and hard to detect. What used to be a drug-trafficking network has turned frequently into a  micro-trafficking network.

The INL Bureau is creating a number of new initiatives to keep up with the dynamic opioid threat in a better fashion. These include:

*Expanding the capacity to globally share and pick up advance electronic data about international mail parcels headed for the United States.

*More support for early warning and global information sharing systems

*Expanding technical assistance for the fine people who develop new ways to detect illicit substances and are working on forensics and cyber investigation

*Spreading education and U.S. expertise with foreign jurisdictions regarding the prevention, treatment ,and recovery programs for drug users.

This will help decrease the demand for the drugs in foreign jurisdictions as well.

Everyone is going to have to work together to meet the challenges posed by the entry of illicit opioids into the United States, including foreign governments, law enforcement agencies, and even the private sector. The State Department is working on advancing cooperation so that the flow of opioids can be stemmed and more lives can be saved.

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