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Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

by Will Long

December 13, 2021
Where does fentanyl come from?

The DEA’s intelligence wing is quite clear that the main origin of fentanyl is in Chinese labs that manufacture synthetic research chemicals, including synthetic opioids. The actual fentanyl we see on the streets mostly comes indirectly from China via Canada and Mexico, occasionally directly from China or from India.

Some of the chemical contents that Chinese labs ship are simply precursors, mailed directly to secondary labs set up by cartels or illicit drug manufacturing operations. China has been clamping down to some degree on synthetic opioid manufacturing, but not to the degree at which should be expected.

Some of the groups that Chinese labs ship fentanyl and precursors to include the Sinaloa and New Generation Jalisco Cartels. When fentanyl can’t be received from China, some groups will source their supply from India.

There’s logistical evidence that supply chains will likely diversify in the future if China cracks down harder on illegal fentanyl labs. The current flow of fentanyl is alarming due to the high rate of fentanyl showing up in illicit drug markets, causing the highest overdose rates in history over a 12-month period.

According to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission:

“China is a global source of fentanyl and other illicit substances because the country’s vast chemical and pharmaceutical industries are weakly regulated and poorly monitored. Chinese law enforcement officials have struggled to adequately regulate thousands of chemical and pharmaceutical facilities operating legally and illegally in the country, leading to increased production and export of illicit chemicals and drugs.”

What is fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that’s far more powerful than heroin or morphine-derived opiates. Fentanyl appears primarily as a white powder that gets added into other drugs or can be used on its own. If unintentionally taken via a laced dose of a different drug without proper tolerance, it can cause a potentially lethal overdose in the victim.

Fentanyl use normally requires some form of robust recovery program due to the strength of the drug. Fentanyl is sometimes prescribed and used in opioid pain management in hospitals throughout the world. It can take the form of patches, lollipops, or pills used by those under doctor supervision.

Read more about fentanyl on our website here.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.