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US Prosecutors Announce First-ever Indictments Against Chinese Opioid Manufacturers

18 October 2017

Zhang and 40-year-old Xiaobing Yan, who was indicted in MS federal court Tuesday, are considered significant global drug-trafficking threats, the Department of Justice reported.

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Tuesday that 20,000 of those deaths resulted from fentanyl that is cheap to manufacture and is up to 50 times more potent than heroin.

The two men, identified as Jian Zhang and Xiaobing Yan, were indicted by grand juries in the Southern District of MS and the District of North Dakota for "separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues into the United States".

Authorities said the men controlled one of the most prolific global drug-trafficking organizations, but with no extradition treaty with China, the chances are slim they will ever be brought to the face the charges.

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Tuesday's announcement came days after The Washington Post and 60 Minutes reported on how intensive lobbying in Congress by producers of prescription opioids and the support of a few legislators including Marino led to a 2016 law that weakened DEA efforts to crack down on them and prevent their drugs from hitting the streets.

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.

But questions remained over whether the Trump administration will go after the United States makers and distributors of legal opioids that have fuelled the nation's addiction crisis.

Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to US customers in multiple cities across the country.

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Last month, President Donald Trump's commission on drug addiction revealed new measures to help stop the epidemic.

The Chinese men indicted were Xiaobang Yan, 40, and Jian Zhang, 38, who worked separately but similarly, authorities said. It has been linked to a rash of overdose deaths across the US.

However, he says, the Chinese government needs to do more. Officials say American customers could purchase pure fentanyl and other unsafe drugs online, directly from Chinese factories. Rosenstein said investigators mapping out the distribution network traced the drugs through Oregon, Canada and eventually to Zhang in China.

Zhang was indicted in the District of North Dakota last month, he said, for allegedly running an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China, and advertising and selling fentanyl to USA customers over the Internet, Rosenstein said. They determined that another Grand Forks residents supplied the fentanyl.

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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.

US Prosecutors Announce First-ever Indictments Against Chinese Opioid Manufacturers