China’s fentanyl vendors are now peddling unproven coronavirus drugs
Once a flashpoint in US-China relations over the sale of synthetic opioids and their precursors, online drug vendors in China are pivoting to other white powdered substances: unproven treatments for Covid-19. Chemical vendors on social media and e-commerce platforms are responding to surging demand for antiviral medication like chloroquine and remdesivir. They are exploiting the wave of hope propelled by as-yet inconclusive trials and US President Donald Trump’s repeated promotions of the drugs.  Both drugs – long-time treatments of malaria that are yet to be clinically proven in the US as safe and effective on Covid-19 patients – are already being hoarded around the world and used for self-
‘Basically like a poison’: the Chinese alchemists behind America’s drug crisis
The first time Alan, 32 and living in Texas, smoked the drug he bought online from China, he thought he would die.  He mixed a tiny amount of the powder, similar to the size of an eyelash, with dried plant leaves, smoked the concoction and immediately started losing control of his body. “I got sick. I was puking all over the place,” the 30-year-old recalled on the phone. “I kind of passed out. I blacked out, and in my mind I kind of had a death trip experience where I thought that I had died.” Even before the overdose, Alan, who is self-employed, had a dependence on synthetic cannabinoids, which are lab-made compounds created to mimic the effects and structure of THC in cannabis. Today, ther
Fighting for HIV drug access in China
China Aids Walk is the nation’s largest awareness and fundraising event focusing on HIV discrimination. Since 2012, people from a wide range of backgrounds have been invited to take part in the event at China’s Great Wall. The event aims to educate the public about HIV, advocate for equal rights for those infected with the virus and raise funds for communities affected by the disease. The group also organizes walking events in six other Chinese cities, drawing in more than 4,000 participants. Martin Yang, director of China Aids Walk, spoke to us about the goals of the organization.
Sentences for China drug gang provides rare window into war on fentanyl
The sentencing of a gang of drug traffickers in a smoggy city in northern China on Thursday offers a glimpse into a key area of cooperation between US authorities and their Chinese counterparts: tackling the deadly fentanyl scourge devastating communities across the United States. After the conclusion of the case – which saw one gang member given a suspended death sentence and eight others jailed, two of them for life – a group of Chinese and American law enforcement officers gathered in Xingtai, an industrial city in Hebei province, to share details of how their joint investigation brought down an international fentanyl smuggling operation. It was the first public example of how the two cou
How China is gearing up to fuel America’s CBD craze
On a remote mountainside overlooking a misty valley, rows of cannabis plants are growing near fields of tobacco and corn. This isn’t a pot farm in California. It’s in southwestern China’s Yunnan. China has one of the strictest drug control policies in the world. But here in a mountainous region bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, cannabis is being touted as a crop that could bring untold wealth to farmers and businesses. That’s because these plants won’t get you high. They don’t have enough of a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for the euphoric feeling. Instead, they’re rich in cannabidiol, often called CBD, another chemical extracted from cannabis that isn
A Chinese town’s battle with heroin trafficking and addiction
Xiamaguan is a town in northwestern China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region that is home to about 100 families, the majority of which have been affected by heroin smuggling and addiction. Many farmers in the area got involved with heroin smuggling in the 1980s – lured into the trade by the prospect of making easy money.  In the video above, we meet with families trapped in the cycles of crime and addiction and see how they are trying to move forward with their lives.
China is using brain implants to treat drug addicts
Doctors in China are conducting clinical trials of deep brain stimulation to treat methamphetamine addiction, as the country outpaces Western nations to become a hub for research on the bleeding edge of science. The treatment, in which a surgical implant of electrodes is placed inside a patient’s brain, is widely used to treat motion disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Use of the procedure for psychiatric conditions including addiction is controversial due to ethical concerns about its effects on mood and behavior. Watch the video for more.
The front lines of the opioid crisis
Overdoses linked to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, killed nearly 30,000 people in the United States in 2017. One of the people on the front lines of the opioid crisis is 21-year-old Anja Lesniak, a recovering opioid addict. Anja lives in what some call ground zero of America's opioid crisis, the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Officials say that most of the fentanyl sold in the state of Pennsylvania can be traced back to China. As part of a ceasefire agreement in the US-China trade war, China has agreed to crack down on restrictions on fentanyl and related drugs. We spoke to Anja about what opioids are doing to the community in Philadelphia and why this
How Chinese money turned 100 California houses into weed factories
As US and China exchange threats of tariffs on each other's goods, another kind of trade tensions are running high. US agents have seized more than 100 houses in Sacremento, California suspected to be marijuana growing sites run by organized Chinese drug traffickers. Hundreds of law enforcement officers raided the homes this week and took possession of them. The raids were one of the largest residential drug busts in US history, and part of a yearslong crackdown on marijuana operations run by Chinese nationals, the authorities said. It requires a tremendous amount of energy, but Chinese people are willing to go out of their way to make money John Renwick, Sacramento lawyer “When criminal org
Police bust $4 million cocaine noodle ring
Hong Kong’s party crowd may have to go without this weekend. The city's customs officers just announced the seizure of some 66 pounds of cocaine – or about 30,000 one-gram bags – with an estimated street value of $4.1 million.  The majority of the seized drugs were hidden inside noodle-making equipment imported from Brazil, via China. Claiming to have busted an international drug syndicate, customs described the smuggling method as “extremely sophisticated.” The drug bust isn’t surprising, if you consider Hong Kong's past. The city has a rich history right at the center of the Asian drug trade. Hong Kong was originally ceded to the British in 1842 after the first Opium War, which was waged a