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United States is undergoing a chemical weapons attack

United States is undergoing a chemical weapons attack
© Tomas Nevesely/iStock/Thinkstock Photos

Is the United States under attack from Chemical Weapons in the form of dangerous and toxic chemicals, as defined by the Chemical Weapons Convention, camouflaged as narcotics for illicit distribution resulting in death tolls rivaling those levels from the Chemical Warfare of WW I?

I only see the “body count” increasing, from 13,000 deaths in 2015 to over 19,000 in 2016 and 27,000 in 2017 according to the Centers for Disease Control and NBC. That represents a 40 percent increase in each of the last few years or a doubling in two years – with no end in sight.

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According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), 124,000 tons of chemical munitions of all types, including toxic industrial chemicals, were used in three and a half years during WW I. This resulted in approximately 90,000 deaths and over 1 million casualties, or about 25,700 deaths per year. That is on average more than the 2017 domestic death toll from the drug epidemic of 27,000 and overall about 50 percent more than the 59,000 opioid deaths in the last there years.

These numbers certainly portend the domestic threat brought on United States with these chemical agents, numbers that are not just statistics to their loved ones.

The definition of chemical weapons as outlined by the OPCW is independent of the delivery system: “any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action.”

Fentanyl and carfentanil are just two of the chemicals in recent years responsible for an increase in the illicit traffic resulting in the escalating death rate. Although there are legitimate uses for fentanyl and carfentanil the quantities manufactured and distributed through the illegal networks far exceed and are not “consistent with such purposes.”

According to the World Health Organization, carfentanil has been illegally manufactured in foreign countries and shipped via the mail services into the United States.  Carfentanil can also be used by the military as a chemical warfare agent. Evidence exists that the Russian Special Forces used carfentanil against the Chechen terrorists in their rescue of the hostages in the Dubrovka Theater in 2002.

Sean O’Connor, in his staff report “Fentanyl: China’s Deadly Export to the United States” on illegal fentanyl trafficking discusses how the United States should review “banning and controlling dangerous chemicals.”

So hazardous are these toxic chemicals that in September 2016 the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide warning to law enforcement about the threat to life posed by synthetic opioids, warning law enforcement and first responders to “Exercise extreme caution.”

The professionals outfitted with full body personal protection suits to deal with such crime scenes sport considerably more than the simple gas masks used for protection from chemical weapons in WW I. 

18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 11B—CHEMICAL WEAPONS section 229 echoes other definitions of a Chemical Weapon: “A toxic chemical and its precursors, except where intended for a purpose not prohibited under this chapter as long as the type and quantity is consistent with such a purpose.”

There should be no question that dangerously toxic chemicals such as carfentanyl and their precursors fall into the definition for chemical weapons.

The US Government should prosecute the illegal traffickers accordingly.

John M. DeMaggio is a retired Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General. He is also a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy, where he served in Naval Intelligence. The above is the opinion of the author and is not meant to reflect the opinion of the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Government.