U.S. indicts Canadians, Chinese in major fentanyl drug bust

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

In all, more than a dozen accused from around the world were involved in the manufacture and distribution of tonnes of fentanyl and other powerful narcotics sold in the United States, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Tuesday.

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.

Two Chinese nationals, Xiaobang Yan, 40, and Jian Zhang, 38, were indicted as overall leaders of the group that operated from January 2013 through August 2016.

Rosenstein said Yan was indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District of MS 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 US customers in multiple USA cities online.

According to the DOJ, Zhang ran an organization that manufactured fentanyl in at least four known labs in China and advertised and sold fentanyl to USA customers over the Internet.

Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Robert Patterson, left, accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, takes the podium to speak at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, to announce the indictments of two Chinese fentanyl trackers in the fight against opiate substances from entering the United States. Five Canadians, two residents of Florida and a resident of New Jersey were also charged in connection with the alleged conspiracy involving Zhang, the department said.

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Patterson insisted that the DEA has not let up on policing the industry and has the tools to do so, but would not say if the agency was investigating any of the major prescription opioid distributors. On Oct. 12, Darius Ghahary, 48, of Ramsey, New Jersey was arrested. The prosecution of this case led to the identification of Yan. Agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan's internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses. "More and more of our citizens are being killed by fentanyls, synthetic opioids that are often much stronger than heroin".

Federal authorities are increasingly warning of the dangers of fentanyl, which can be lethal even in small amounts and is often laced with other unsafe drugs.

One of the 2015 victims in Grand Forks died as a result of the overdose, according to the department. They determined that another Grand Forks residents supplied the fentanyl.

Rosenstein described a "money laundering ... and global drug conspiracy" that brought fentanyl and other drugs into the USA from China via Canada and Oregon.

"We're seeking additional support from the Chinese government in cracking down on those labs", Rosenstein said. He also operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to US customers in multiple cities across the country. The U.S. has no extradition treaty with China. This person had been using Bitcoin to buy fentanyl, heroin, and other drugs over the Dark Web for more than a year.

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