Senator Charles Schumer announced legislation to sanction traffickers who export the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, from China into the United States. The drug is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.
Schumer announced the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, which would direct the president to publicly identify known foreign fentanyl producers, deny them visas and not allow them to do business with American banks or export any products into the country.
The bill would also give law enforcement and intelligence officials additional money and resources to stop the flow of fentanyl into the U.S.
Schumer said legitimate drug companies in China are the main source of the synthetic opioid. He says sanctions have had a big impact in the past at controlling substance abuse by stemming availability.
"For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking up formulas of death and some of them are major drug companies in China,” Schumer said. “They export fentanyl to New York and other places that kill tens of thousands of people…When we imposed sanctions on Flakka, a synthetic stimulant, there was a dramatic decline in the flow of Flakka into the United States from China. So, sanctions worked with Flakka and it can work with fentanyl, and of course fentanyl is a much bigger problem. "
At the G-20 summit in December, Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to label fentanyl a controlled substance in his country.
But new sanctions could increase tension between the U.S. and China ahead of scheduled trade negotiations.