“XINGTAI, China — An online pharmacy advertising itself as a seller of “high purity, real pure” fentanyl still responds right away to potential customers.
“Which products do you want to buy,” a salesperson replied within a minute to an inquiry in English on WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service.
But when contacted from an American telephone number and asked about the availability of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid fueling an epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, the seller demurred.
“I don’t sell any more.”
Until recently, much of the illicit fentanyl that found its way to the United States came like this: easily ordered online from a source in China and seamlessly shipped by international delivery companies, including the United States Postal Service.
Fentanyl sourced from China accounted for 97 percent of the drug seized from international mail services by United States law enforcement in both the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Now, China’s Communist government is taking steps to stop the flood, as the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, promised President Trump he would do.
After the two leaders met in Buenos Aires at the Group of 20 summit at the end of last year, the White House released a statement saying that “President Xi, in a wonderful humanitarian gesture, has agreed to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance.”