(Washington) The United States on Friday announced sanctions against networks trafficking in the very lethal fentanyl, involving China and Mexico, including four sons of the notorious Mexican trafficker “El Chapo”.

Fentanyl, a particularly powerful synthetic opiate, is responsible for the death of tens of thousands of Americans each year.

Four offspring of the founder of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, nicknamed the “Chapitos”, are notably targeted by indictments because they are considered by American justice as the main responsible for the massive entries of this drug into American territory.

Two Chinese companies, accused of supplying the cartel with chemical compounds necessary for the manufacture of fentanyl, are also targeted by sanctions from the Treasury Department.

According to US Secretary of Justice Merrick Garland, authorities are tackling “the largest, most violent and prolific fentanyl trafficking operations” on Friday.

These lawsuits “send a clear message to the ‘Chapitos’, the Sinaloa Cartel, and criminal drug trafficking networks around the world that the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will take all necessary action to protect the national security of United States and the health and safety of Americans,” he added at a press conference.

The US State Department has announced bounties of $10 million each for Ivan Guzman Salazar and Alfredo Guzman Salazar, and $5 million for Joaquin Guzman Lopez. The fourth brother, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, was arrested in Mexico in January and is expected to be extradited to the United States.

Additional bounties for any information leading to the arrest of 27 people linked to this traffic are also offered by American diplomacy.

The Treasury Department has meanwhile sanctioned two entities in China and five individuals based in China and Guatemala, all involved in the supply of chemicals used in the composition of fentanyl.

Beijing “must stop the uncontrolled flow of fentanyl chemicals from China,” Merrick Garland insisted.

“Illegal fentanyl is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans each year,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a separate statement.

“It kills more Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 than terrorism, car accidents, cancer and COVID-19,” said DEA Director Anne Milgram.

The “Chapitos” had previously been indicted in drug trafficking cases in the United States, but the new indictments describe a brutal cartel that has expanded its operations while centering them on fentanyl since its former leader, patriarch Joaquin ” El Chapo” Guzman, was sentenced to life in prison in the United States in July 2019.

Members of the Sinaloa Cartel tortured rivals, electrocuting some and delivering others – dead or alive – to tigers belonging to Ivan and Jesus Guzman, according to court documents.

And while fentanyl costs far less to manufacture than heroin, finding the right dosage has proven so complex that “several” cartel chemists have died trying their product, they add.

Sometimes drug traffickers had prisoners test their drugs. One woman, for example, had to take multiple doses of fentanyl until she overdosed.

In the United States, between 2020 and 2021, deaths related to opioid overdoses jumped by 17%, from 69,000 to 81,000.

And of 106,000 people who died of overdoses in 2022, 70,000 were linked to fentanyl, Senator Lindsey Graham recalled in March, accusing the Mexican cartels of flooding the United States with this synthetic opiate 50 times more powerful than the heroine.