DOJ indicts Chinese fentanyl distributors selling to Americans online ars_ab.settitle(1188677)

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

He said Yan manufactured the drugs in large quantities in two Chinese chemical plants, and sold them through USA distributors.

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 global money laundering conspiracy, and operation of a continuing criminal enterprise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 20,000 Americans were killed by the drug and its analogues in 2016, and the number is rising, Rosenstein said. The drug is also a legal prescription painkiller.

The U.S. Department of Justice has indicted two major Chinese drug traffickers on charges of making illegal versions of fentanyl and selling the highly addictive drug to Americans over the internet and through worldwide mail.

But it was not immediately clear what impact the indictments will have on the efforts to stem the flow into the USA of illegal synthetics produced in China.

Rosenstein said the Justice Department is working closely with its counterparts in China, but he would not say whether authorities there had taken the men into custody or shut down their labs.

"Chinese fentanyl distributors are using the Internet to sell fentanyl directly to United States customers", Rosenstein continued.

The announcement comes amid heightened public attention on the administration's efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

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.

Marino's decision leaves the administration with a handful of top domestic posts to fill - drug czar, DEA chief and secretary of health and human services.

The case against Yan, 40, began in 2013 in MS, where authorities uncovered a domestic drug ring selling synthetics, Rosenstein said.

According to the Department of Justice, one of the men ran two chemical plants in China that produced high quantities of fentanyl and similar drugs and the other man owned four labs in China doing the same thing.

Rosenstein said the investigation of Zhang began when authorities in Grand Forks, North Dakota responded to the overdose death of an 18-year-old, Bailey Henke. The Justice Department said Yan sold to more than 100 distributors.

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 worldwide parcel delivery services, according to the news release issued by the DOJ. Zhang faces up to life in prison and $12.5 million in fines.

The charges in the case, which come as North America grapples with an increasingly deadly opioid crisis, are said to the first in the United States against designated Chinese manufacturers of fentanyl and other opiates.

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