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Chemical weapon for sale: China's unregulated narcotic

  • A woman walks past a display at the China International Chemical Industry Fair in Shanghai, China, on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Despite periodic crackdowns, people willing to skirt the law are easy to find in China’s vast, freewheeling chemicals industry, made up of an estimated 160,000 companies operating legally and illegally. Vendors said they lie on customs forms, guarantee delivery to countries where carfentanil is banned and volunteered strategic advice on sneaking packages past law enforcement. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    A woman walks past a display at the China International Chemical Industry Fair in Shanghai, China, on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Despite periodic crackdowns, people willing to skirt the law are easy to find in China’s vast, freewheeling chemicals industry, made up of an estimated 160,000 companies operating legally and illegally. Vendors said they lie on customs forms, guarantee delivery to countries where carfentanil is banned and volunteered strategic advice on sneaking packages past law enforcement. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • Visitors look at a directory of the vendors at the China International Chemical Industry Fair in Shanghai, China on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Despite periodic crackdowns, people willing to skirt the law are easy to find in China’s vast, freewheeling chemicals industry, made up of an estimated 160,000 companies operating legally and illegally. Vendors said they lie on customs forms, guarantee delivery to countries where carfentanil is banned and volunteered strategic advice on sneaking packages past law enforcement. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Visitors look at a directory of the vendors at the China International Chemical Industry Fair in Shanghai, China on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. Despite periodic crackdowns, people willing to skirt the law are easy to find in China’s vast, freewheeling chemicals industry, made up of an estimated 160,000 companies operating legally and illegally. Vendors said they lie on customs forms, guarantee delivery to countries where carfentanil is banned and volunteered strategic advice on sneaking packages past law enforcement. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002 file photo, a special forces officer carries a woman out of the Dubrovka Theater where hundreds of hostages were held in Moscow, Russia. Russian special forces turned to carfentanil to end a standoff with Chechen separatists using an aerosol version of the opioid, along with the less potent remifentanil, sending it through air vents, according to a paper by British scientists who tested clothing and urine samples from three survivors. The strategy worked, but more than 120 hostages died from the effects of the chemicals. (AP Photo/Gazeta Gazeta, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002 file photo, a special forces officer carries a woman out of the Dubrovka Theater where hundreds of hostages were held in Moscow, Russia. Russian special forces turned to carfentanil to end a standoff with Chechen separatists using an aerosol version of the opioid, along with the less potent remifentanil, sending it through air vents, according to a paper by British scientists who tested clothing and urine samples from three survivors. The strategy worked, but more than 120 hostages died from the effects of the chemicals. (AP Photo/Gazeta Gazeta, File)  (The Associated Press)

An Associated Press investigation has found Chinese companies offering to export a powerful chemical that has been killing drug users and is so lethal it presents a potential terrorism threat.

The AP identified 12 Chinese businesses that said they would export carfentanil, a synthetic opioid, to the U.S., Europe and elsewhere for as little as $2,750 a kilogram (2.2 pounds), no questions asked.

Carfentanil is the latest scourge in an epidemic of opioid abuse that has killed tens of thousands of people. Dealers have been cutting carfentanil into heroin and other illicit drugs to boost profit margins.

Despite the dangers, carfentanil is not a controlled substance in China, where it is legally manufactured and sold online. The U.S. is pressing China to blacklist carfentanil, but Beijing has yet to act.