Hong Kong CNN —
The United State sanctioned more than a dozen Chinese and Mexican companies on Tuesday, accusing them of shipping or selling equipment that make counterfeit pills, as it cracks down on imports of illegal fentanyl that fuels America’s deadly opioid epidemic.
The sanctions were directed at seven entities and six people based in China, as well as one entity and three people based in Mexico, according to a statement from the US Treasury Department on Tuesday.
These targets are directly or indirectly involved in the sale of pill press machines and other equipment used to impress counterfeit trade markings onto illicitly produced pills, often laced with fentanyl, which are frequently destined for US markets, the department said.
“Treasury’s sanctions target every stage of the deadly supply chain fueling the surge in fentanyl poisonings and deaths across the country,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E Nelson said in the statement.
“Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl constitute a leading cause of these deaths, devastating thousands of American families each year,” he said. “We remain committed to using all authorities against enablers of illicit drug production to disrupt this deadly global production and counter the threat posed by these drugs.”
The assets of sanctioned entities are blocked and must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. American nationals are generally prohibited from dealing with them.
One of the Chinese companies targeted is pill press supplier Youli Technology Development, which Treasury said had shipped pill press machinery to individuals in the United States involved in the production of counterfeit pills.
Officials also accused Chinese company Yason General Machinery of working with a Mexican supplier and contact who previously provided pill equipment to a person linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.
That individual used the machines to create superlabs in Mexico with the capacity to produce millions of fentanyl-laced pills weekly, Treasury said.
The Mexican firm sanctioned is Mexpacking Solutions.
The Chinese Embassy in the United States condemned the US move late Tuesday.
“The US itself is the root cause of its drug problems,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The US sanctions against Chinese companies and citizens will add more obstacles to China-US counter-narcotics cooperation,” it added.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. Nearly 70,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses that involved fentanyl in 2021, almost a four-fold increase over five years, according to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month.
Last month, the Biden administration announced a significant series of actions intended to target those involved with the deadly influx of illegal fentanyl into the United States stemming from Mexico and chemicals supplied from China.