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WASHINGTON (PIX11) — The former head of the Special Operations Division for the Drug Enforcement Administration testified before a congressional committee Wednesday that Chinese and Mexican criminal networks pumping synthetic drugs into the United States are a bigger threat to U.S. national security than terrorists.

“Al-Qaida, Hezbollah, they’re not killing this amount of Americans,” Derek Maltz told the House Judiciary Committee. “The narco-terrorists in Mexico are destroying our country. They need to be held accountable, even if it means using our U.S. military.”

Maltz was testifying during a hearing on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is largely responsible for the overdose deaths of more than 100,000 Americans last year and in 2021.

Immediately after his testimony, Maltz spoke with PIX11 News from outside the Capitol building and talked about xylazine, the animal tranquilizer being mixed into the heroin and fentanyl supply, known as “tranq” on the streets.

“If I want to buy xylazine now, I go onto a website that’s in China, I order it, I make payment, and it gets delivered to my house or P.O. box,” Maltz observed.  

Maltz told PIX11 News illicit xylazine can be converted to powder form and sold for as cheaply as $1 to $10 a kilogram.

PIX11 News asked the former federal agent about Tuesday’s move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to limit the importation of xylazine into the U.S.

“It’s positive that they’re actually talking about it,” Maltz said. “But here’s the problem. The illicit fentanyl is what we need to focus on, and that’s coming out of Chinese chemical labs, and they want to destroy us.”

Maltz noted precursor chemicals needed to produce fentanyl are sent by China to Mexican drug cartels, which have labs to make the fentanyl south of the U.S. border.

Maltz said the FDA’s announcement Tuesday would not stop China from “dumping this poison into America.”

Maltz talked of the horror he saw in Philadelphia, the same city PIX11 News visited last week.

“These people are so addicted to fentanyl,” Maltz said, “that now they want the xylazine in it because they claim it gives them a more intense high.”

Xylazine has been present in 20% of fatal drug overdoses in New York City in recent years.  Because it’s a sedative, it puts drug users at increased risk of overdose and also has a horrific side effect of eating away at the skin, sometimes leading to amputation of limbs.