The late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming, author of such classic James Bond thrillers as From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Dr. No, also wrote a short story about drug smuggling called Risico.

In Risico, James Bond is given the assignment to break up a drug smuggling ring in Italy. M, the chief of the British Secret Service in the Bond stories, tells Bond drug trafficking can be an instrument of psychological warfare, as drug addiction saps a country’s strength. He stated that subversion and not money may be at the back of it.

“In this pizniss is much risico,” the drug smuggler Kristatos tells James Bond at the beginning of the short story.

The Italian criminal Enrico Colombo, who smuggles cigarettes and other items — but not drugs — aids Bond in destroying a cache of Kristatos’s drugs. Colombo tells Bond that the drug shipment they had just destroyed was a gift from Russia. He explained that Kristatos ran the drug ring that smuggled heroin into the United Kingdom, but the Soviet Union provided him with the drugs.

Ian Fleming admitted that the plots in his novels were fantastic (the films much more so), but he also said they were based on the real world of intelligence.

Fleming, a naval intelligence officer in WWII, and a journalist who covered espionage for Reuters prior to WWII and the London Sunday Times post-war, knew his subject well. 

I thought of Ian Fleming’s Risico when I read the remarks by Matthew Millhollin — the assistant director of Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department of Homeland Security — at a hearing on combating transnational criminal organizations and the trafficking of humans, narcotics, and firearms.

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Appearing before the committee on May 3, Millhollin spoke of the Chinese connection to the Mexican cartels who import heroin and other drugs, including the lethal drug fentanyl, which are devastating and killing drug addicts in Kensington, other parts of Philadelphia, and across the country. 

“As the principal investigative component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), HSI is responsible for investigating transnational crime. In collaboration with its partners in the United States and abroad, HSI special agents develop evidence to identify and advance criminal cases against transnational criminal organizations (TCOs); terrorist networks and facilitators; and other criminal elements that threaten the homeland,” Millhollin told the committee. “HSI works with prosecutors to arrest and indict violators; execute criminal search warrants; seize criminally derived money and assets; and take other actions with the goal of disrupting and dismantling TCOs operating throughout the world.”

Millhollin added that TCOs have evolved beyond insular entities and have sought out partnerships with competing TCOs in furtherance of their criminal activities.

“For example, the illicit collaboration between Chinese TCOs and Mexican cartels have created a complex criminal ecosystem that is fueling money laundering and narcotics trafficking, specifically illicit fentanyl, operations into and within the United States. Chinese money laundering organizations (MLOs) have developed sophisticated networks in the United States, Mexico, China, and throughout Asia to facilitate three money laundering schemes,” Millhollin explained.

“These organizations utilize their vast global infrastructure to clean illicit proceeds for various criminal organizations, including Mexican cartels. Moreover, as Mexican cartels have taken over fentanyl production and operate on an industrial scale, they are procuring precursor chemicals from China and synthesizing these chemicals in Mexico to produce fentanyl. Mexican cartels then smuggle the fentanyl into the United States in either powder or pill form for distribution.” 

Millhollin stated that HSI was attacking this illicit narcotics supply chain through an intelligence based counternarcotics operation that blends traditional investigative and analytical techniques with interagency collaboration, industry partnerships, and computer-based tools. 

Millhollin did not suggest the Communist Chinese Government was involved in the exporting of fentanyl or turned a blind eye. But others have, and I suspect it is so.

“Chinese criminal organizations also facilitate the trafficking and distribution of illicit fentanyl pills. The most common is fake oxycodone pills, which are made to look identical to prescription oxycodone but are laced with deadly fentanyl. These fake pills are responsible for thousands of overdose fatalities, as the user believes they are taking a real oxycodone pill and unknowingly receives a lethal dose of fentanyl. In order to manufacture these pills, Mexican cartels require industrial pill press equipment to turn powdered fentanyl into pill form. The Mexican cartels are purchasing these pill presses directly from Chinese manufacturers who are producing the equipment specifically for illicit activity. 

“HSI is actively disrupting the pill press supply chain, and to date has seized over 1,200 pill presses and parts used to make deadly fentanyl-laced pills. Moreover, TCOs, particularly those along the Southern Border, have employed a multipronged illicit business model encompassing the importation of narcotics into the United States and exportation of illicit firearms and ammunition to Mexico.”

Millhollin stated further that HSI has developed a multidiscipline approach to combating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States which includes countering the flow of illicit firearms and ammunition into Mexico. 

Mexican President López Obrador also claimed fentanyl is being bought by Mexican gangs from suppliers in China. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning denied the claim and stated there was no such thing as illegal trafficking of fentanyl between China and Mexico.

“China has not been notified by Mexico of the seizure of scheduled fentanyl precursors from China,” she said. 

This was plainly a dodge, as drugs listed in “schedules” are legal shipments subject to a number of official government restrictions, while “unscheduled” — smuggled by criminals — are not. 

Mao Ning said the widespread fentanyl abuse in the US was a problem completely made in America. 

Although Millhollin spoke of Chinese transnational crime organizations, he did not suggest the Communist Chinese Government was involved in the exporting of fentanyl or turned a blind eye. But others have, and I suspect it is so.

Just as the Soviet Union was the villain providing drugs to traffickers so that drugs would undermine the United Kingdom in Ian Fleming’s Risico, I wonder if the Communist Chinese Government allows their criminal gangs to ship fentanyl to Mexico and then on to the United States in an effort to undermine America.

Paul Davis, a Philadelphia writer and frequent contributor to Broad + Liberty, also contributes to Counterterrorism magazine and writes the On Crime column for the Washington Times.

4 thoughts on “Paul Davis: From China, with love”

  1. Sad but not once did Millhollin mention using deportations as a way of disrupting the cartels supply chain. Much of the drug transportation, and distribution is done by Mexican illegal aliens. The cartels naturally prefer to use fellow Mexicans, especially ones vulnerable for retribution if they screw up. The cartels can go after their remaining family in Mexico in a heartbeat.

    Philadelphia, like most American cities, is saturated with illegal aliens, many of which are Mexican. A lot of Mexican restaurants, which we see more and more of over the past twenty years, are cartel money laundering operations. Landscaping is a close second.

    Joe Biden’s administration not only stopped building the wall, which does work stop slow the flow of both illicit drugs, but also illegals, he also shut down immigration enforcement. They have done this both at the border (mainly in between the ports of entry), but also in the interior of the US. They have misapplied the asylum process first, and now the parole authority. They are bringing in the foot soldiers of the cartels, plus who knows what else.

    We can’t survive as a nation without a protected border and a robust interior enforcement of our immigration laws. Drugs can’t be bulk smuggled without cartels and their minions.

  2. I am somewhat surprised that no mention has been made of the new drug on the market for stand-alone or fentanyl mix, Xylazine, it is a large animal tranquilizer and for veterinary use only, but apparently, people have discovered something wonderful about it and are using it. It is legal so you can’t be charged with illegal drug possession I am personally convinced that what Paul Davis has written is spot on. the sad fact is that drugs would not be nearly the problem they are if people would stop using them. You can pursue the supply side of drugs, but until you control the demand side, the problem won’t diminish in any meaningful way, and looking at that, China is correct in stating drug addiction in the United States is a home-grown problem. The saddest thing I am observing is the “progressive” view of drugs and their use. We have state and local governments not only tolerating drug use, but by provision of resources, facilitating their use. I am going full out here and propose that the use of Narcan for has provided a “get out of jail free” car for serious addicts, it does save lives but not for rehab, but for the next use. Having said that, don’t send me hate mail because I’m challenging the new orthodoxy. Just think about it and look at the stats.

  3. If you’re into espionage try an unusually thrilling autobiography entitled Beyond Enkription (misspelt on purpose) by Bill Fairclough (ex MI6 agent codename JJ). He was one of Colonel Alan Pemberton’s People in MI6. It’s a must read for espionage cognoscenti. The fact based narrative is set in 1974 about a British accountant working in London, Nassau and Port au Prince who unwittingly works for MI6 and later is hired by the CIA.

    It’s a compelling read but whatever you do, don’t just surf through the prologue as I did. Also, if like me you could only just stomach the film Jaws don’t be put off by the passing savagery of the first chapter. I finished this huge book in two sittings and a week or so later read it again.

    To get the most out of it try researching the real events behind it on the web and in particular look at the brief News Article dated 31 October 2022 about Pemberton’s People in TheBurlingtonFiles website. There is a lot out there once you start digging but as a minimum include a half hour read of one of the author’s bios which don’t include spoilers. You’ll soon feel like you know his family. After my first reading I did even more research and kept on unravelling increasingly enthralling material that drove me to reread the book. My second reading was richly rewarded and just as captivating as my first.

    If you like raw or noir espionage thrillers, you’ll love it. Len Deighton and Mick Herron could be forgiven for thinking they co-wrote it. Atmospherically it’s reminiscent of Ted Lewis’ Get Carter of Michael Caine fame. If anyone ever makes a film based on Beyond Enkription they’ll only have themselves to blame if it doesn’t go down in history as a classic espionage thriller.

    Whether you’re a le Carré connoisseur, a Deighton disciple, a Fleming fanatic, a Herron hireling or a Macintyre marauder, odds on once you are immersed in it you’ll read this titanic production twice. Before reading Beyond Enkription, do read about Pemberton’s People in an article dated 31 October 2022 on The Burlington Files website. For more detailed reviews visit the Reviews page on TheBurlingtonFiles website or see other independent reviews on your local Amazon website and check out Bill Fairclough’s background on the web.

  4. The United States of America doesn’t have an illegal drug problem. We have a drug problem.
    “And then we convinced a whole generation of women that birth control would liberate them, when in reality it just increased their risk of depression, infertility, and cancer.” Estrogen-progestagen oral contraceptives (the birth control pill) is a Group 1 carcinogen. It’s on the same list with asbestos and tobacco. And there are some estimates that birth control pills could add 10 million doses of hormones to our wastewater… every day. The percentage of Americans taking prescription drugs varies depending on the source. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the prevalence of prescription drug use among people 20 and older had risen to 59% in 2012 from 51% just a dozen years earlier. During the same period, the percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs nearly doubled, to 15% from 8%. A survey done by Consumer Reports found that 55% of Americans regularly take a prescription medicine, and they’re taking more than ever. Those who use a prescription drug take four, on average, and many also take over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and other dietary supplements.
    Guess what? All types of drugs – legal and illegal – are everywhere. “Win victory first, then go into battle.”

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