May 23, 2018

Chinese fentanyl is a big, deadly business

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As the worst addiction crisis in American history has shifted from prescription painkillers to heroin and now to illegal synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the death toll and drug dealers' profits have risen together.

Some perspective from a Bloomberg dive into the fentanyl supply chain: A pair of undercover detectives were able to buy a kilogram of fentanyl from China for $3,800. Once turned into tablet form and resold on the street, that’s enough to yield more than $30 million in profit.

  • A kilo of heroin, by contrast, would turn a mere 400% profit — and it’s a lot harder to get.

Fentanyl is incredibly potent. So a little bit of raw supply can go a long way. And it’s synthesized unpredictably, making it hard to know how much you’re taking (and thus more likely to overdose).

  • It’s also easy to synthesize, and China only recently outlawed some forms of fentanyl. For years, manufacturers have been shipping illicit compounds across the globe, including into the U.S., without violating Chinese law, Bloomberg writes.

“The two countries play by different rules,” Markos Kounalakis, a visiting fellow at Stanford University, told Bloomberg. “What’s bad for America is not necessarily bad for China.”

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Trump says he will campaign against Lisa Murkowski after her support for Mattis

Trump with Barr and Meadows outside St. John's Episcopal church in Washington, D.C. on June 1. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would endorse "any candidate" with a pulse who runs against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Driving the news: Murkowski said on Thursday that she supported former defense secretary James Mattis' condemnation of Trump over his response to protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing. She described Mattis' statement as "true, honest, necessary and overdue," Politico's Andrew Desiderio reports.

7 hours ago - World

The president vs. the Pentagon

Trump visits Mattis and the Pentagon in 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

Over the course of just a few hours, President Trump was rebuffed by the Secretary of Defense over his call for troops in the streets and accused by James Mattis, his former Pentagon chief, of trampling the Constitution for political gain.

Why it matters: Current and former leaders of the U.S. military are drawing a line over Trump's demand for a militarized response to the protests and unrest that have swept the country over the killing of George Floyd by police.

New York Times says Tom Cotton op-ed did not meet standards

Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York Times spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the paper will be changing its editorial board processes after a Wednesday op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), which called for President Trump to "send in the troops" in order to quell violent protests, failed to meet its standards.

Why it matters: The shift comes after Times employees began a coordinated movement on social media on Wednesday and Thursday that argued that publishing the op-ed put black staff in danger. Cotton wrote that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act in order to deploy the U.S. military against rioters that have overwhelmed police forces in cities across the country.