The United States has been pursuing a counternarcotics mission for decades, exemplifying the evolving complexities of the threat and presenting opportunities to learn from past efforts. Nevertheless, the opioid epidemic continues to escalate, with Chinese chemical and pharmaceutical companies shipping fentanyl precursors to transnational criminal organizations to manufacture in Mexico, enabling the entry of fentanyl into the United States. This epidemic poses a public health, economic, and national security threat, accentuating the need for a comprehensive, fully integrated counternarcotic approach.
The USG is presented with opportunities to implement long-standing approaches by leveraging available data, integrating stovepiped efforts, and applying evidence-based public health reforms. These three methods are complementary, and integrating efforts should be a high priority for the USG. The PRC’s role in exacerbating the fentanyl crisis reinforces the need for the IC to bridge the necessary gaps for law enforcement. The IC can play a pivotal role in countering this threat by more fully integrating law enforcement throughout the intelligence process to supplement current whole-of-government capabilities.
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