United States indicts Chinese nationals for importing opioids

Officials say fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are coming into the United States in numerous ways including highly pure shipments of fentanyl from factories in China

"For the first time, we have indicted major Chinese fentanyl traffickers who have been using the Internet to sell fentanyl and fentanyl analogues to drug traffickers and individual customers in the United States", Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced in a speech.

As the media advisory noted, "On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of MS on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances".

They then sold their illegal products to users and distributors in the USA and Canada over the internet, typically paid in hard-to-trace Bitcoins, prosecutors said.

Marino was accused by lawmakers of leading a legislative effort to reduce the effectiveness of Drug Enforcement Administration attempts to remove opioids from sale.

Two men in China have been charged with making and selling illegal fentanyl to suppliers in the USA and Canada, drugs that officials say led directly to overdose deaths in the US, federal prosecutors revealed Tuesday.

But questions remained over whether the Trump administration will go after the U.S. makers and distributors of legal opioids that have fuelled the nation's addiction crisis. That report, however, involved legal prescription drugs that were illegally diverted.

"Unwary or inexperienced users often have no idea that they are ingesting fentanyl until it is too late".

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It also comes amid growing pressure on President Donald Trump to fulfill his pledge to declare the nation's opioid epidemic a "national emergency", as a commission he's convened on the subject has urged him to do.

"Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs)". Several deaths and serious illness have been tied directly to the alleged ring, US authorities said. Investigators identified more than 100 distributors in the alleged scheme.

USA officials said Yan kept tabs on legislation and law-enforcement activities in the United States and China, and modified the chemical structures of the fentanyl analogues he made to evade prosecution in the United States. "More and more of our citizens are being killed by fentanyl... a few grains of fentanyl can be a lethal dose", Rosenstein said.

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

Zhang's charges relate to four people's deaths in New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota and OR in 2014 and 2015, and serious bodily injuries to five others, the DOJ said.

Last year, more than 20,000 people overdosed on fentanyl, up from 2,500 three years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They determined that another Grand Forks residents supplied the fentanyl.

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