Fentanyl and the Chinese Conspiracy — A Public Health Epidemic

Joseph R. Anticaglia, MD
Medical Advisory Board

Several years ago, I spoke with a parent and his son, Adrian, who excelled in the classroom and was a star football athlete. In his junior year of high school, he was on top of the world sifting through scholarship offers from first-rate universities. He was upbeat and confident about the future. That all changed in his senior year at school.

When I talked to the young man, he had graduated from high school the previous year. However, during the same conversation, I learned he was a recent “graduate” of a thirty day drug rehab program. What turned his world upside down?

Adrian, at 5’11” weighing 205 pounds was the star running back on his team. The one play that changed his life happened in November of his last year in school, when he was handed the football. He ran across the line of scrimmage, was tackled and heard a pop in his right knee. He had to be carted off the field.

He suffered a torn ACL ligament. The anterior cruciate ligament stabilizes the knee joint. It connects the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone). He was prescribed an opioid for knee pain after surgery that led to his addiction, depression and downfall.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, meaning it is manufactured in the laboratory. It’s 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine. China laboratories, drug cartels and the internet are replacing the poppy plant as the go to place for illicit opioids, and fentanyl precursors. — the latter are biochemical compounds that are used to make fentanyl.

Credit jra; Fatal dose of Fentanyl = 2 mg

Two milligrams of fentanyl contaminated in pills, capsules or powders is a lethal dose of this drug. More than 109,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in 2022; nearly 70% involved illegally manufactured fentanyl. This drug is cheap, rather easy to make, deadly, and has been successfully distributed in the U. S. and in other countries. There are instances of young men and women pronounced dead after taking one pill, or capsule, or powder which has been “laced” with as little as two milligrams of fentanyl.

Opium Trade

Opium trade with China developed during the 18th and19th centuries and flourished particularly after the 1820s. Britain, and to a lesser extent other Western countries, exported opium grown in India to China. They used the profits from the sale of this highly addictive drug to purchase much sought after items such as tea, silk and porcelain.

The widespread use of opium in China led to an opium crisis with catastrophic effects on the fabric of Chinese society. It caused the dismantling of its social values, economic decline, crime and health issues. The Chinese government attempted to stop the illegal trade of opium in its country but was defeated in two Opium Wars. The first, called the Anglo-Sino war, happened between 1839 and 1842. The second war took place between 1856 to 1860 and involved other countries beside Britain. What does this have to do with Fentanyl?

Sailing ship 19th Century Cargo — Opium? Wikimedia commons

Fentanyl Connection

In a twist of fate, the Chinese government in the 20th and 21st centuries has turned the opium tables on western countries and created the fentanyl crisis. The majority of illegal fentanyl that comes into the United States comes from China. The Chinese government supplies Mexico’s cartels with fentanyl or fentanyl precursors which are chemical compounds to make fentanyl.. The cartels play a crucial role in converting the precursors to fentanyl and distributing the deadly drug in America and elsewhere. Some have characterized this activity as a Chinese conspiracy to poison America’s youth and plant the seeds for the country’s decline from within in the 21st century.

Department of Justice

In an audacious Chinese scheme to wreak havoc on the American people, the Chinese government established bogus companies in the United States to produce deadly drugs. In October 2023, the Justice department and Attorney General, Merrick B. Garland, charged “China-based companies and their employees with crimes relating to fentanyl and methamphetamine production, distribution of synthetic opioids, and sales resulting from precursor chemicals. We know that the global fentanyl supply chain, which ends with the deaths of Americans, often starts with chemical companies in China.”

“Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat our nation has ever faced. Chinese chemical companies are fueling the fentanyl crisis in the United States by sending fentanyl precursors, fentanyl analogues, xylazine, and nitazenes into our country and into Mexico. These chemicals are used to make fentanyl and make it especially deadly,” said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator, Anne Milgram.

No Pill Is Safe

Fentanyl is the major cause of the current increase in overdose deaths reported in the U. S. The lethal dose of fentanyl is a miniscule, 2 mg. We realize it’s foolish to take a pill, capsule or powder from a drug pusher off the street. No one truly knows what’s in street drugs until it is too late.

The China conspiracy is alive killing American youngsters and devastating their families. No pill is safe in this Public Health Epidemic. We must prioritize education, prevention, and compassionate care to save lives and combat this poisoning epidemic.


Opiate refers specifically to natural compounds containing opium derived from the opium poppy plant. Opiate examples include heroine, morphine and codeine which are used to relieve pain.

Opioid can be a natural compound made from the opium poppy plant, or made in the laboratory which is used to relieve pain.

Laced with is to add a small a small amount of drug, alcohol or poison to food, drink or pills

Narcan, generic name naloxone, can reverse fentanyl overdose

Pain Management: Fentanyl has been prescribed by doctors for pain management, especially in cases of severe pain such as cancer pain or post-surgical recovery.


  1. CDC; Routes of drug use among drug overdose deaths, United States, 2020 — 2022; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, February 15, 2024
  2. National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse; Fentanyl What You Need To Know
  3. NIOSH; Fentanyl and Work, CDC, February 27, 2023
  4. DEA; Fentanyl

This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.