US Customs Seize Millions Worth of Illicit Narcotics and Assault Weapon Parts From China

US Customs Seize Millions Worth of Illicit Narcotics and Assault Weapon Parts From China
Synthetic drugs and controlled substances seized by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Cincinatti, Ohio, on May 11, 2020. (CBP Cincinnati)
Frank Fang

U.S. customs officials in Cincinnati recently seized 530 pounds of illicit narcotics and other controlled substances in a shipment originating from China, which had a street value of over $2 million.

The cargo also contained other illicit goods such as counterfeit products and prohibited food items.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the seizure in a press release on June 26. The shipment, intercepted by customs officials on May 11, was destined for a single importer in Aurora, Colorado.

“This is the largest synthetic seizure in the history of our port,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie in the press release.

Also on Friday, CBP announced that customs officials in Louisville seized an illicit shipment of 10,000 assault weapon parts that originated from China.
Of the 530 pounds of narcotics, around 435 pounds were Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances, including 156 pounds of synthetic cannabinoids (better known by its street names as Spice and K2) and 16 pounds of synthetic cathinones (better known by its street name as bath salts). According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification levels, Schedule I has a high potential for abuse and physical dependence, while Schedule V has the least potential for abuse.

The shipment also contained at least 192 pounds of substances that are known precursors for making fentanyl, according to the CBP.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid and Schedule II controlled substance, is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more powerful than heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Lethal overdoses of fentanyl killed 71,500 Americans in 2017, according to data released by the CDC. And China is the largest source of illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances in the country, according to a 2018 report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The remainder of the illicit narcotics were Schedule III and IV substances and other prescription-only medicines such as steroids, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant medications, as well as medicines intended for preventing or treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

“Synthetic drugs threaten the health and safety of our nation’s citizens. This seizure epitomizes the dedication of our officers and showcases the significant role they play in ensuring CBP’s strategy to combat the illicit flow of narcotics is successful,” said Robert E. White, director of CBP Field Operations for the Chicago Field Office, according to the press release.

In December 2018 at the G-20 Summit in Argentina, Chinese leader Xi Jinping promised U.S. President Donald Trump that he would crack down on Chinese-made fentanyl.
Eight months later, Trump tweeted that Xi had not kept his promise. He wrote: “My friend President Xi [Jinping] said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!”
In 2019, U.S. lawmakers introduced several bills—Combating Illicit Fentanyl Act of 2019 (H.R.1542) and Fentanyl Sanctions Act (H.R.2226) and (S.1044)—with the goal of stopping the flow of foreign fentanyl into the United States.

According to the CBP, the shipment of illicit drugs and controlled substances also contained more than 160 smaller packages addressed to individuals and businesses across the United States.

Those smaller packages included 162 pounds of prohibited products such as unlabeled veterinary medications, meat products, and fruit peels; as well as counterfeit products from well-known brand name manufacturers including Apple, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Samsung, and Tory Burch, as well as fake CCP virus test kits. If genuine, these items would have a total suggested retail price of more than $1.25 million.

“None of these materials were listed on any manifest included with the shipment,” according to the CBP.

Meanwhile, the shipment of assault weapon parts was seized on May 22, and was destined for a residence in Melbourne, Florida, from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The shipment was valued at $129,600 and had a shipping manifest claiming to contain 100 steel pin samples.

“The importing of any type of munitions is regulated by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives),” said Thomas Mahn, port director in Louisville, in the press release.
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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