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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday denounced China and blamed the communist nation for a variety of problems, including creating and covering up the COVID-19 pandemic and manufacturing fentanyl and shipping it to drug cartels.
“China’s role in the Covid pandemic, in covering up the origins of the Covid virus. If you look at their manufacturing fentanyl and shipping it to the drug cartels who run it across our southern border,” he said during a news conference at Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.
He said the leading cause of death for people in the United States ages 18 to 45 is fentanyl overdoses, citing health officials.
“That would not be happening if it weren’t for China,” he said.
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Seizures of fentanyl at the border have become a regular occurrence in recent months. In July, seizures jumped 200% amid concerns over overdose deaths.
The synthetic opioid is typically used for treating severe pain and is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. Illicit fentanyl is now primarily made in Mexico from precursors manufactured in China, and then trafficked across the southern land border.
It is frequently mixed with other drugs, meaning users may not be aware they are ingesting it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has previously warned of a “nationwide spike” in mass fentanyl overdoses and has said the drug is killing Americans at an “unprecedented rate.” A 2020 DEA report also notes that most fentanyl and the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the drug originate in China.
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Of the more than 108,000 overdose deaths last year, more than 80,000 were linked with fentanyl.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.