Two Chinese nationals indicted in fentanyl trafficking operation

Two Chinese nationals indicted in fentanyl trafficking operation
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced the indictments of two Chinese nationals who allegedly conspired to traffic fentanyl, a drug that’s more powerful and deadly than heroin, across the United States.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Xiaobing Yan and Jian Zhang used the Internet to sell fentanyl and related synthetic opioids to drug traffickers and individual customers.

While Rosenstein said the U.S. has been in working with Chinese officials, he would not comment on whether Yan and Zhang are in custody.

“The U.S. has no extradition treating, but we’re hopeful the Chinese will hold them accountable,” he said.

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Rosenstein said Yan was indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District of Mississippi for allegedly using different names and company identities over a period of at least six years to advertise and sell acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl compounds directly to U.S. customers in multiple U.S. cities online.

Zhang was indicted in the District of North Dakota last month, according to Rosenstein, for allegedly running an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China, and advertising and selling fentanyl to U.S. customers over the Internet, Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein claimed Zhang’s organization sent orders of fentanyl and other illicit drugs, and pill presses, stamps and dies used to shape fentanyl into pills, to customers in the United States through the mail or international parcel delivery services.

“The Centers for Disease Control estimates that over 20,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl in 2016, and the number is rising at a dramatic rate,” he said.

“Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are coming into the country in numerous ways, including shipments from factories in China directly to U.S. customers who purchased it on the Internet,” he added.

Rosenstein said the U.S. needs Chinese officials to do more to help the U.S. crack down on fentanyl labs.

About an hour before the Justice Department’s announcement, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) withdrew his name from consideration as the nation’s drug czar.

The withdrawal followed a The Washington Post-"60 Minutes" joint investigation highlighting his support for legislation that weakened the government's ability to go after drug companies, something critics say has contributed to the nation's opioid crisis.