Officials find new smuggled Chinese import potentially deadly to Americans, pesticides on marijuana

The discovery of the illegal imports comes amid the influx of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl from China.

Published: June 17, 2024 5:26pm

Updated: June 17, 2024 5:37pm

California officials have discovered a new illegal import from China posing a health threat to Americans – smuggled  pesticides used to grow cannabis in the state.

State cannabis regulators during an organized raids late last year, in a licensed Oakland cannabis warehouse building, found bags of unknown pesticides labeled in Chinese, according to a recently published investigation by The Los Angeles Times. 

The bags contained packets of wood shavings soaking in the unknown material, similar to pesticides found on illegal farms earlier last year.

The Times reports that lab tests found the shaving to have a "cocktail of dangerous insecticides and fungicides that when burned would emit a cloud of pest- and mold-killing smoke.

Among the chemicals detected were isoprocarb, which is not permitted in the U.S.; profenofos, an organophosphate so harmful its use here was discontinued in 2016; and fenpropathrin, an toxic insecticide fatal if inhaled, the newspaper reports.

“I think the scariest thing with this stuff is what’s going to happen down the road,” Siskiyou County’s Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Cory Persing told the newspaper.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency referred questions about the matter to other agencies, who did not respond to the inquiries. The Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Agency did not respond to similar questions about whether the contraband chemicals on marijuana in California had been found in other states.

The discovery of the illegal imports comes amid the influx of fentanyl from China. An estimated 112,000 people died last year in the U.S. in fentanyl-related deaths.

When fentanyl and fentanyl analogues first started to appear in the U.S. in roughly 2014, China and Mexico were the main sources. Now, however, China appears to be the primary source of precursor chemicals used by Mexican drug cartels to bring the manufacturer opioid into the U.S.

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