INL works around the world to reduce illicit opioid production and trafficking. Through the Merida Initiative, INL supports the Government of Mexico’s efforts to eradicate opium poppy crops (from which heroin is derived); train law enforcement; dismantle clandestine laboratories; enhance border security; conduct investigations; bring drug traffickers to justice; and disrupt the transnational crime organizations and seize their proceeds. Learn More»

On the other side of the globe, U.S. engagement with China has prompted the Government of China to place domestic legal controls on the production and distribution of 175 substances, including 23 fentanyl analogues and the two key precursors to fentanyl production. According to U.S. law enforcement agencies, these controls have directly led to the reduction of their availability on the streets of the United States.

In cooperation with other U.S. government agencies, INL is also working closely with China to improve coordination and screening of mail packages entering the United States. To stop illicit opioid trafficking not only into the United States, but also around the world, INL advances U.S. goals and mobilizes global efforts in international fora such as the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Organization of American States Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS-CICAD), and North American Drug Dialogue (NADD) between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. In March 2018, with U.S. leadership, the world came together at the CND to control the deadly opioid carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine, and also five other fentanyl-related compounds and six other new psychoactive substances. These controls will reduce the diversion of these substances to illicit channels, making it more difficult for criminals to produce and traffic them.

INL also manages the Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program, which is an important tool in the U.S. arsenal to help law enforcement take down major international drug traffickers. The Program provides reward payments of up to $25 million to those individuals who come forward with information that leads to the arrest or capture of major violators of U.S. narcotics laws responsible for trafficking significant amounts of illicit drugs, including heroin and synthetic opioids, into the United States. Learn More»

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is not confined to the United States. In 2015, an estimated 168,000 deaths globally were attributed to drug use disorders, more than 75% of which involved opioids. Opioid abuse remains high in Southwest Asia, and Eastern Europe, and is expanding in Western Europe and in Canada. Although China and Mexico are the primary illicit opioid source countries for the United States, Afghanistan produces over 80 percent of the world’s illicit opiates, with most of its supply destined for Europe and Canada. INL implements a holistic counternarcotics program in partnership with the Afghan Government, including eradication, interdiction, alternative development, public information, and demand reduction. Learn More» 

Burma is another prominent opioid producer, accounting for some five percent of global opium production in 2017. INL is working with other U.S. government agencies and international partners to support training for Burmese law enforcement to combat drug trafficking and investigate domestic and transnational crime. Learn More»

Finally, as a part of a comprehensive and balanced approach to the opioid crisis, INL implements programs around the world to reduce the demand for drugs, starving criminal traffickers of revenue. INL’s manages global partnerships and programs in the area of Drug Demand Reduction to support the treatment and prevention workforce and professionalize treatment services. By providing evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support, INL’s demand reduction programs help shrink the market for illicit drugs. Learn More»

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future