China: The Worlds Biggest Narco-terrorists?

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China and synthetic drugs: Geopolitics trumps counternarcotics cooperation

…China is also the principal supplier of precursor chemicals for methamphetamine production in East Asia and Mexico. Between the 1990s and mid-2010s, meth was produced in southern China both for domestic consumption and export to Australia and throughout East Asia. At first Beijing was defensive and dismissive about any claims that China was the supply source of Australia’s meth epidemic. But as time passed, it grew willing to cooperate with Canberra. Sino-Australian cooperation culminated in the creation in November 2015 of a joint bilateral counternarcotics task force, Task Force Blaze, which scored important interdiction successes, repeatedly seizing large shipments of meth from China to Australia and leading to arrests of important drug traffickers in both countries. China also shut down domestic production of meth.

But meth precursors and pre-precursors from China continue to head to illicit drug producers in Southeast Asia, such as Myanmar. Chinese drug smuggling networks, such as the Triads, then distribute meth across Asia and to Australia and New Zealand. Mexican drug cartels also source their precursors from China and sell finished meth to the U.S. and elsewhere.


Fentanyl scheduling and China’s adoption of stricter mail monitoring has created some deterrence effects. Instead of finished fentanyl being shipped directly to the U.S., most smuggling now takes place via Mexico. Like with meth, Mexican criminal groups source fentanyl precursors, and increasingly non-scheduled pre-precursors in China, and then traffic finished fentanyl from Mexico to the U.S.

Some Chinese sellers specifically cater to Mexican drug traffickers. As investigative C4ADS research showed, Chinese sellers bundle uncontrolled fentanyl and meth precursors and common cocaine fillers in their Spanish-language advertisements and highlight their capacities to “clear customs in Mexico.”

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