DOJ Announces First Ever Indictments Against Designated Chinese Manufacturers of Deadly Fentanyl and Other Opiate Substances

Washington, D.C.–The Justice Department announced today that federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota returned indictments, unsealed yesterday, against two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the United States.  The Chinese nationals are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs).

On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi 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.  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 U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country.  Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.  Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks.  Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network.  In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.

On Sept. 20, Jian Zhang, 38, of China, five Canadian citizens, two residents of Florida, and a resident of New Jersey were indicted in the District of North Dakota for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in the United States, conspiracy to import the drugs from Canada and China, a money laundering conspiracy, an international money laundering conspiracy, and operation of a continuing criminal enterprise.  Zhang ran an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China and advertised and sold fentanyl to U.S. customers over the Internet.  Zhang’s organization would send orders of fentanyl or other illicit drugs, or pill presses, stamps, or dies used to shape fentanyl into pills, to customers in the United States through the mail or international parcel delivery services.  Federal law enforcement agents determined that Zhang sent many thousands of these packages since January of 2013.

On Oct. 11, Elizabeth Ton, 26, and Anthony Gomes, 33, both of Davie, Florida were arrested. On Oct. 12, Darius Ghahary, 48, of Ramsey, New Jersey was arrested. Ton, Gomes, and Ghahary are charged with drug trafficking conspiracy in the Zhang indictment.

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.  Unwary or inexperienced users often have no idea that they are ingesting fentanyl until it is too late.  The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues in 2016, and the number is rising at an exponential rate.

Zhang was charged with conduct resulting in the deaths of four individuals in North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon in 2014 and 2015 and the serious bodily injuries related to five additional individuals.

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

If convicted, Yan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release. Zhang faces up to life in prison and $12.5 million in fines.

NO COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY