Fentanyl ring tied to South Mississippi

Oct 18, 2017, 00:25
Fentanyl ring tied to South Mississippi

"Xiaobing Yan, Jian Zhang and their respective associates represent one of the most significant drug threats facing the country - overseas organized crime groups capable of producing almost any synthetic drug imaginable, including fentanyl, and who attempt to hide their tracks with web-based sales, worldwide shipments and cryptocurrency transactions", said Robert Patterson, acting administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

According to the Department of Justice, one of the men ran two chemical plants in China that produced high quantities of fentanyl and similar drugs and the other man owned four labs in China doing the same thing. Earlier Tuesday, President Donald Trump said his drug czar nominee, Republican U.S. Representative Tom Marino, had withdrawn his name from consideration.

Assistant Commissioner Joanne Crampton with the RCMP, one of several agencies involved in the investigation, said the force has implemented a national strategy aimed at tackling fentanyl importers, distributors and traffickers.

Of the estimated 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, 20,000 are blamed on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.

"The investigations of Yan and Zhang revealed a new and disturbing facet of the opioid crisis in America: Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are coming into the United States in numerous ways, including highly pure shipments of fentanyl from factories in China directly to U.S. customers who purchase it on the internet", the U.S. Justice Dept. said in a statement.

"Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs)", said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

U.S. officials alleged Zhang had four fentanyl-producing laboratories and sold the drug over the Internet, paid for by crypto-currencies and shipped by global parcel services.

The two suspects, Xiaobing Yan and Jian Zhang, face a raft of charges, including conspiracy to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and drugs with a similar chemical makeup in the US through the mail or worldwide delivery services. Investigators identified more than 100 distributors in the alleged scheme.

Zhang's organization would send fentanyl as well as pill presses, stamps and dyes to US customers through the mail, according to prosecutors. Zhang and eight others were charged with conspiracy to sell the drugs in at least 11 states, and conspiracy to import the drugs through China and Canada.

Zhang was charged with conduct resulting in the deaths of four individuals in North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, and OR in 2014 and 2015 and the serious bodily injuries related to five additional individuals. Officials say American customers could purchase pure fentanyl and other unsafe drugs online, directly from Chinese factories. The case was brought there as a routine traffic stop in the Magnolia State resulted in a "domestic drug ring that sold various synthetic cannabinoids, sometimes dubbed "spice" or "bath salts". The United States is dealing with a major epidemic of opioid overdoses.

With the supply of prescription opioids on the market cut back in the past two years, addicts have turned to the cheapest alternative, fentanyl or heroin cut with fentanyl. Several deaths and serious illness have been tied directly to the alleged ring, USA authorities said. Zhang faces up to life in prison and a $12.5 million fine, if convicted.

A pair of Chinese nationals has been indicted on charges that they manufactured tons of fentanyl and other powerful narcotics that were peddled in the United States and flowed, in part, through North Dakota.

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