June 15, 2022 – Dr. Rahu Gupta also acknowledged the growing power of Mexican drug cartels and other international narcotics gangs that “operate seamlessly across borders and cooperate with remarkable efficiency.” 

According to government officials, the cartels now contaminate much of the illicit drug supply in the United States with fentanyl, driving the latest surge of fatal overdoses. 

Until recently, most street opioids — including heroin and black market pain pills — were made from chemicals extracted from poppy plants.

Fentanyl, by contrast, is produced using industrial chemicals, which means it’s cheaper to make, far more potent and easier to smuggle. 

Gupta noted drug gangs are continuing to develop new, even more powerful synthetic opioids that are now reaching cities and small towns across the country.

“A Pandora’s box has been opened. We can expect to see much more potent substances [in the future],” he testified.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who chaired Wednesday’s hearing, praised broad outlines of the Biden team drug strategy.