China sentences 9 people for fentanyl trafficking

China sentences 9 people for fentanyl trafficking
© Getty Images

A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced nine people convicted of fentanyl trafficking following a joint operation with U.S. officials, according to The Associated Press.

The court sentenced Liu Yong to death and two other traffickers, Wang Fengxi and Jiang Juhua, to life in prison. The other six traffickers were sentenced to between six months and 10 years.

Liu and Jiang were convicted of manufacturing and distributing the drug, while the other seven were convicted of trafficking. Liu's death sentence was postponed for two years, according to the AP, which noted that it is possible it will be commuted to life in prison. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The operation reportedly began with a 2017 U.S. Department of Homeland Security tip about an online drug operation, leading Chinese police to break up a drug ring based in the northern Chinese city of Xingtai that served as a major hub for shipping to the U.S. and other international markets. Police seized more than 26 pounds of fentanyl in the bust, the AP noted.

Chinese officials said they continue to pursue two other fentanyl networks based on U.S. intelligence, but did not offer further details on the ongoing investigations.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE and U.S. officials have frequently blamed the opioid crisis on the importation of the synthetic drug from China and what they call Beijing’s inadequate response.

Yu Haibin, deputy director of the Office of China National Narcotics Control Commission, said Thursday that these claims were “irresponsible and inconsistent with the actual facts.”

“Drug crime is the public enemy of all humankind,” he added, according to the AP. “It’s about the life of human beings. It should not be related with the trade war or other political reasons.”