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Congressman: Report details China's involvement in fentanyl crisis in U.S.

US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi poses for a photo at the WGLT newsroom in Normal, Illinois
Colin Hardman / WGLT
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi is the ranking Democrat on the House committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid far more potent than morphine. Illegal fentanyl, which can be mixed with other drugs without the knowledge of the user, contributes to more than 70% of overdose deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC data from 2022 indicates over 74,000 overdose deaths could be attributed to synthetic opioids that year.

The U.S. House of Representatives committee on the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] has compiled a report on how the Chinese government exacerbates the problem of illegal fentanyl in the U.S. The committee’s ranking Democratic member, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, says Chinese companies with otherwise legitimate operations are supplying the dangerous drug with tax incentives from the CCP.

“There are literally thousands and thousands of Chinese companies who have a legitimate business in the United States. They have access to our markets,” Krishnamoorthi told WGLT. “But then they have a side hustle of exporting this illicit fentanyl.”

Krishnamoorthi suggested sanctions should be threatened against such companies, forcing them to operate only their legitimate side, or face consequences. He also acknowledged that while stopping suppliers of fentanyl is important, the demand for illegal drugs must be addressed as well.

“Unfortunately, too many [Americans] have substance use disorders, and we have to treat them properly," he said. "And there are different methodologies for that, I know there are different schools of thought. And we have a lot of work to do on that.”

Presidential election

On Wednesday afternoon, jurors in Donald Trump’s “hush money” trial ended the first day of deliberations without a verdict. Krishnamoorthi, who represents the 8th Congressional District covering part of Chicago's western suburbs, said he’s not sure how the eventual verdict will affect the upcoming presidential election, but that Trump’s legal battles detract from efforts to help Americans with their problems.

“Staring them in the face is the problem of educating their children, affording their health care, and finding a good-paying job. And just making sure their kids have a brighter future economically than they do. Those are the topics I’m dealing with when I talk with my constituents every day.”

Krishnamoorthi said he doubts Trump will be acquitted, with a hung jury more likely.

On the incumbent’s side, the merit of President Joe Biden’s handling of the ongoing crisis in Gaza has been widely debated. Krishnamoorthi said Biden’s recent diplomacy shows some promise toward a solution that achieves important concessions like recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia, and Israel helping to achieve a Palestinian state.

“I know that people have accused me of somehow being too optimistic about the future. But I think we must simultaneously get to a sustained immediate ceasefire with the release of hostages and massive humanitarian aid flowing into Gaza, and get to a process for a two-state solution,” he said.

Krishnamoorthi called Biden’s current efforts “unfinished business," adding it's necessary for the administration to continue working toward these goals in the interest of civilians — Palestinian and Israeli — who wish to live in peace.

Colin Hardman is a correspondent at WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.