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Daniel Puerta-Johnson was an introverted and kind teenager.
His friends often went to see him for relationship advice, Daniel’s father, Jaime Puerta, told Fox News. Daniel was 16 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when he contacted a drug dealer on Snapchat.
It was March 2020 and Daniel was battling depression. He was looking for an oxycodone pill to self-medicate.
Jaime thought it was suspicious when Daniel asked to walk the dog one day.
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In hindsight, Puerta said, Daniel was on what the teen thought was oxycodone.
But, at dinner a few hours later, everything seemed normal to Jaime. The two spent a lovely evening together, Jaime recalled. Daniel hugged his father and gave him a kiss on the cheek before wishing him goodnight like he always had.
The next morning, Jaime found Daniel dead in his bedroom. Her only son had died of a fentanyl overdose. Jamie was one of 70,000 Americans killed between December 2020 and December 2021, including many children under 18 like Daniel who tried a pill containing fentanyl for the first time.
“He was just an innocent child. He made a stupid decision and he died. Daniel didn’t deserve to die. We’re not supposed to bury our children,” Puerta told Fox, heartbroken over the sudden death. of his son.
Puerta, a former US Marine, is president of an organization that defends victims like Daniel. He educates other parents so that they spare the experience of losing a child like he did. His organization is called Victims Of Illicit Drugs, known as VOID.
Some experts say the fentanyl problem has become a national security issue involving state-sponsored attacks.
Puerta agrees that is the case.
“Is this a way for China to attack our democracy? I think so. There is so much fentanyl right now in this country that it is enough to kill every man, woman and child in the United States” , said Puerta.
China remains the main source of fentanyl, a drug that kills more than 100 people in the United States every day. The Drug Enforcement Administration says China remains the world’s largest source of fentanyl.
Two techniques are used to deliver the drug to the United States. It either ships to the United States. directly by international courier or shipped via Mexico. In some cases, Chinese sellers label these shipments of deadly drugs with advertisements in Spanish to facilitate customs clearance. US lawmakers say crime syndicates in China operate with the knowledge of the Communist Party.
Once in Mexico, traffickers take the fentanyl to clandestine labs and attempt to dilute it, often with imprecise measurements and equipment. It was then smuggled across the border into the United States, where they are already associated with distribution networks. At the end of the supply chain are money laundering rings, set up to get these deadly drugs into the hands of unsuspecting American youth.
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“The Chinese Communist Party is involved in just about everything economically, commercially, from China, and you have Chinese scientists who have partnered with the cartels,” Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn, told Fox.
Blackburn has teamed up with Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to sponsor the bipartisan Child Online Safety Act of 2022. Proponents say the US government needs to view this in terms of national security.
“Fentanyl is not sold in any country in the world other than the United States and Canada,” Gretchen Peters, executive director of the Alliance to Counter Crime Online, told Fox. “It’s flooding these countries and at first I thought it was an overstatement that it was somehow state sponsored. Now I’m not so sure.”
In August 2021, the State Department offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of People’s Republic of China national Zhang Jian, the leader of the alleged organization of Zhang’s drug trafficking in China.
Between 2013 and 2016, with Zhang acting as the main leader and organizer, the criminal organization imported and distributed fentanyl in the United States, resulting in the overdose deaths of four Americans in North Dakota, Oregon, La North Carolina and New Jersey, according to the Department of Justice. It also led to serious health issues for five other Americans.
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China officially banned fentanyl production in 2019 under pressure from the Trump administration, pushing Chinese drugmakers into Mexico, which is now a key part of the supply chain.
The Chinese Embassy responded in a statement from its spokesperson.
“These claims are highly irresponsible and completely untrue,” the spokesperson said. “So far, China has not found any listed chemical precursors being trafficked to Mexico or received any notification from the Mexican side regarding the seizure of listed chemicals from China.
“Such fabricated allegations show no sense of responsibility to American victims of fentanyl abuse and their families and seriously mislead the Chinese and American people.”
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Jaime Puerta suggests parents pay more attention to what their kids are doing on social media and talk to them about it often.
“All we have to do is make the wrong decision and you’re dead. And that’s unfathomable. It’s unconscionable. And I believe our government needs to do something about it immediately,” Puerta said. .
He wants Daniel to be remembered as a beautiful old soul.
“All he wanted to do was be right in this world,” Puerta said. “That’s all he wanted to do. He just wanted to graduate on stage with his friends. He wanted to go pursue college in systems engineering. He wanted to spend a lot of time with his girlfriend. He wanted to be build a beautiful life. And it was all gone. Everything was gone in a second. And now we have to face the consequences.