TIME | November 11, 2019
“Publicizing this is an attempt to send a message that ‘Hey, we’re really serious about this and we’re making moves to crack down,’” Regina LaBelle, who was chief of staff in the Office of National Drug Control Policy during the Obama Administration, tells TIME. American officials have long blamed China for the influx of fentanyl and similar substances reaching U.S. borders. LaBelle recalls several “high-level” discussions with China in which they made commitments in the last year of the Obama Administration to crack down on fentanyl. “They would, in official statements, say the right words,” LaBelle says.