Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said during an interview Friday that communist China is conducting warfare against the United States by intentionally flooding the U.S. with fentanyl.
Ernst, who serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, made the remarks during an interview with CBS News.
“The Chinese are selling these precursor chemicals into Mexico. Then the Mexican cartels are working on making the fentanyl and distributing up into the United States,” Ernst said. “I think that the Chinese are intentionally poisoning America. And of course, the Chinese don’t want to assist us with this.”
“When we see an adversary like China poisoning our communities, it’s very disconcerting,” she added. “So we have to educate the American people. We have to work with our Mexican counterparts to push back against the cartel and the Chinese. We can’t continue to lose our youth to this fentanyl epidemic. It is extremely important that we push back.”
The report noted that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s top official recently told the network that there is a relationship between the Chinese chemical companies and the Mexican drug cartels.
The opioid epidemic in the U.S. started in the late 1990s with the overprescribing of prescription narcotics, CNN reported, and has transitioned into opioid users overdosing at high rates due to the introduction of fentanyl to the illicit drug market.
Fentanyl is responsible for the most drug deaths in the U.S. right now, and it’s commonly found mixed with cocaine, heroin, and fake prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and even Adderall, the report added.
Heroin became more easily available in the U.S. around 2010, the report said, with the introduction of fentanyl to the U.S. black market shortly thereafter which led to an immediate spike in drug deaths.
In 2021, the CDC said more than 106,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S., a 15% increase from the previous year.
“Mexican [drug cartels] will almost certainly have the greatest direct impact on the fentanyl market in the United States for the near future because of these organizations’ increased capacity and capabilities for fentanyl production, adaptations to restrictions on precursor chemicals, and existing drug trafficking infrastructure in the United States,” the DEA’s most recent National Drug Threat Assessment said.
The Mexican drug cartels “use a combination of methods to obtain chemicals used for fentanyl production in Mexico, primarily from sources originating in China, including purchases made on the open market, smuggling chemicals hidden in legitimate commercial shipments, mislabeling shipments to avoid controls and the attention of law enforcement, and diversion from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.”
“Law enforcement seizures in 2019 and 2020 include many chemicals which are uncontrolled in China and Mexico,” the report said. “The emergence of this chemical demonstrates the continued efforts by traffickers in Mexico and China to bypass international precursor chemical controls to continue producing illicit fentanyl.”