inside sources print logo
Get up to date New Hampshire news in your inbox

Report: Chinese Government Exploiting Southern Border to Feed Fentanyl Epidemic

An explosive report published in ProPublica links the official policy of China’s government to the fentanyl epidemic killing Americans, including a record number of Granite Staters. And Granite State GOP opponents of President Joe Biden’s border policy are pointing to it as more proof it is time to make a change in Washington.

ProPublica released a story last weekend by reporters Sebastian Rotella and Kirsten Berg about a Chinese American gangster named Xizhi Li who came to dominate the money laundering market for Mexican drug cartels. The ruthless cartels are making billions sending fentanyl and other drugs to users in the United States and beyond through the porous Southern border.

“At no time in the history of organized crime is there an example where a revenue stream has been taken over like this, and without a shot being fired,” retired DEA agent Thomas Cindric, a veteran of the elite Special Operations Division, told ProPublica. “This has enriched the Mexican cartels beyond their wildest dreams.”

Since 2006, China has exported more than $3.8 trillion through money laundering schemes according to the report. China now leads the world as the primary financial underwriter for the cartels.

According to ProPublica, the Chinese government certainly knows that its citizens around the globe are involved in money laundering for the cartels and it approves.

With a major world power now suspected of using America’s unsecured southern border to attack the United States, Republicans like retired Gen. Don Bolduc are laying the blame at the feed of Biden and his Democratic allies, including his opponent Sen. Maggie Hassan.

“It’s no secret the drug crisis is plaguing New Hampshire communities and families, exacerbated by the open-border policies supported by Sen. Hassan,” Bolduc’s spokesperson Kate Constantini told NHJournal. “Drugs are pouring in and killing Granite Staters while Sen. Hassan is hiding in her safe and cushy D.C. office. Parents across the country now have to worry about telling their own children they can’t eat Halloween candy because Democrats like Sen. Hassan continue to stay soft on crime and drugs.

“We’ll gladly compare our vision for a secure border and strong communities over Sen. Hassan’s pathetic record any day.”

The issue is more problematic for Hassan because she sits on the powerful Homeland Security Committee which has direct oversight of border security policy.

Former senior FBI official Frank Montoya, Jr. told ProPublica China supports the money laundering business which props up the cartels as part of a policy to further weaken the United States.

“We suspected a Chinese ideological and strategic motivation behind the drug and money activity,” Montoya told ProPublica.

He offered this rationale to ProPublica for the Communist government’s policy.

“To fan the flames of hate and division. The Chinese have seen the advantages of the drug trade. If fentanyl helps them and hurts this country, why not?”

The Hassan campaign did not respond to a request for comment. But in the first U.S. Senate debate of the general election Tuesday, Hassan insisted she supports “a secure, orderly and humane border,” and that she supports additional “physical barriers,” aka “a wall.”

But as a senator, Hassan repeatedly voted against funding the border wall former President Donald Trump tried to build while he was in office. And she opposes deporting illegal immigrants who successfully make their way into the nation, also known as “interior enforcement.” 

Karoline Leavitt, in an apparent neck-and-neck race with incumbent Democrat Rep. Chris Pappas, also blames her opponent for the border problem.

“With each passing day, Chinese fentanyl continues to be smuggled across our wide-open southern border. Our families and communities are being poisoned by this dangerous drug, and we cannot afford another weak leader in D.C. who will act as if this problem isn’t occurring,” Leavitt said. “We need a representative who will work with law enforcement to secure our communities and stop this dangerous drug from pouring into our state.”

Pappas also did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Pappas and Hassan heard testimony earlier this year from national security officials who testified that Chinese triads are supplying Mexican cartels with the chemicals needed to make fentanyl. Those drugs are making their way into New Hampshire with deadly consequences.

New Hampshire’s two largest cities, Manchester and Nashua, are on target for record opioid overdose deaths this year, thanks to the fentanyl flooding the streets. According to American Medical Response, a large ambulance company that services New Hampshire, opioid deaths continue to rise.

Data for August, the most recent set available, show Nashua has seen 32 suspected opioid-related deaths, topping last year’s 30 opioid deaths.

“Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in one year since the opioid epidemic began in 2015,” AMR states in its monthly report.

Manchester is on pace to have the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a year since 2017, with more than 71 opioid deaths projected for the year. As of the end of August, the Queen City has 45 suspected opioid overdose deaths on record.

As Pols Debate Border Security, NH Opioid Deaths Climb

The rate of overdose deaths from the opioid epidemic continues to climb in Manchester and Nashua, with both cities approaching record deaths this year. And Republicans are pointing a finger at President Joe Biden’s border crisis.

According to Chris Stawasz with American Medical Response, first responders were called to 86 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua and Manchester during July 2022, bringing this year’s total to 539. That is 99 more incidents than the same period last year, a 23 percent increase.

Nashua is on track to have the highest number of opioid deaths in a year since the start of the pandemic. Manchester is looking to break the record it set in 2017.

“Preliminary data shows Nashua has experienced 29 suspected opioid-related deaths through July. There were 30 suspected opioid-related deaths in Nashua during all of 2021. Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in one year since the opioid epidemic began in 2015. Manchester is still on pace to have the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a one-year period since 2017,” Stawasz said.

There were 10 likely opioid-related deaths in July, eight in Manchester, and two in Nashua. Their causes are still pending verification from the Office of the New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner. 

Republicans note the surge in unlawful border crossings since Biden took office and the flood of fentanyl across the southern border.

So far this year, United States Customs and Border Patrol has seized about 133,000 pounds of methamphetamine at the border, compared to more than 8,000 pounds of fentanyl, and 50,000 pounds of cocaine.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Samantha Bullock says voters should hold elected Democrats like Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas to account.

“Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster have buried their heads in the sand to avoid addressing Democrats’ southern border crisis that’s allowing deadly drugs to destroy New Hampshire communities.”

A spokesperson for the House Republican Conference reiterated that point to the Washington Examiner.

“Joe Biden’s open-border policies have plunged our southern border into absolute chaos. It is a fact that Biden’s fentanyl crisis is directly a result of his border crisis, as the illegal drugs pour in over the wide open southern border,” the spokesperson said.

In New Hampshire’s two largest cities, Stawasz says first responders are dealing with people overdosing after they use drugs that they did not believe were opioids.

“AMR medics continue to see and listen to reports from suspected opioid OD patients who believed they were not specifically using opioids and were surprised that they overdosed on an opioid,” Stawasz said.

Stawasz told Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen during a July roundtable that dealers are putting potentially deadly doses of fentanyl into other drugs and selling them to unsuspecting users.

“I personally have experienced several occasions on a call when someone we’ve woken up from an opioid overdose will insist, ‘I was not using an opioid, I’m not an opioid user. I smoke marijuana. But I bought it from a different person.’ I think that’s contributing to an increased number of deaths,” Stawasz said.

July also saw an increase in the number of patients treated who reported or were suspected of consuming methamphetamine. Methamphetamine use numbers are not currently tracked and are not included in this report. Meth is a particularly dangerous drug for both users and first responders as it can cause extremely excited delirium and alarmingly unpredictable behavior in users.

Methamphetamine is seen by federal law enforcement as a growing problem in New Hampshire. It is coming into the United States in the same way as fentanyl, largely from Mexican cartels who smuggle the drugs over the border. 

 

The Number of NH Opioid Overdose Deaths Keeps Climbing

The opioid addiction crisis in New Hampshire continues to worsen as Nashua and Manchester recorded another month of increased overdoses and deaths. 

According to Chris Stawasz, Northeast Regional Director of Government Affairs with Global Medical Response, Nashua is expected to have a record number of deaths this year.

“Nashua is still on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids since the opioid epidemic began in 2015,” Stawasz said.

Through the end of June, Nashua and Manchester have seen a 20 percent increase in opioid overdoses from the same time last year. In the two cities alone, there have been 453 overdoses in the first half of 2022 and 45 suspected overdose deaths. The two cities typically have among the highest rates of overdoses and overdose deaths in the state.

Nashua currently has 27 suspected opioid overdose deaths this year. In 2021, the city recorded 30 such deaths. If the addiction crisis continues at that pace, Nashua will likely have a record 55 deaths this year, according to projections. In Manchester, the projection expects 59 opioid deaths, the highest total since 2018.

State and federal law enforcement is working to stop the flow of drugs into the state. Michael Garrity, the director of communications for the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the state Drug Task Force goes after dealers at all levels.

“The NH DOJ continues to work with its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals and groups who seek to traffic in opioids and perpetuate this epidemic within New Hampshire communities,” Garrity said. “Additionally, the Attorney General’s Drug Task Force works within local New Hampshire communities to target drug dealers, including opioid dealers, at all levels.”

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department announced a new New England Prescription Opioid (NEPO) Strike Force to combat the illegal use of prescriptions by doctors, pharmacists, and others in the medical field to distribute opioids. The strike force combines efforts in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine and will operate out of Concord.

But law enforcement in New Hampshire can’t control the southern border, where most of the fentanyl that reaches the Granite State originates.

Jon DeLena, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division for the DEA, told Democrats U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan,  U.S. Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster during a Homeland Security Committee presentation that Mexico is the key to the drug epidemic.

“It’s the goal of DEA always to try to map these networks and to take these investigations literally from Mexico to Main Street What we’re doing now in all 11 offices throughout Mexico is trying to target the highest-level violators within the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación) who ultimately are impacting the East Coast of the United States more than anybody, and right here in New Hampshire as well,” DeLena said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been making record seizures of drugs at the border, with a 1,066 percent increase in the amount of fentanyl seized in the last fiscal year in south Texas.

The means 87,652 pounds of narcotics, including 588 pounds of fentanyl, with a total street value of worth $786 million, were seized at eight ports from Brownsville to Del Rio, Texas, according to CBP. The street value of the drugs is worth $786 million.

Those seizures obviously have not stopped the drugs from getting into the United States and making their way to New Hampshire. Even though drug seizures are up, the border itself is less secure. According to CPB, illegal border crossing is up significantly.

“The number of unique individuals encountered nationwide in May 2022 was 177,793, a 15 percent increase in the number of unique enforcement encounters over the prior month,” according to the latest CPB report.