The US Justice Department has filed criminal charges against four Chinese companies and eight persons for trafficking fentanyl chemicals into the United States. In the first-ever such case against Chinese companies, the US is charging Amarvel Biotech, Anhui Rencheng Technology Co., Hefei GSK Trade Co. Ltd, and Hebei Sinaloa Trading Co for fentanyl trafficking, precursor chemical importation, and money laundering.
Some of the persons being charged in connection with the importation of chemicals used to manufacture fentanyl are Qingzhou Wang, 35; Yiyi Chen, 31; and Fnu Lnu, also known as Er Yang, among others. Three of those indicted are the sons of Mexican cartel leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is imprisoned in the US.
Federal investigators in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York revealed that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized more than 200 kilograms of the precursor chemicals for fentanyl, enough quantity to kill 25 million Americans. The government said the Chinese in collaboration with drug cartels in Mexico smuggled the fentanyl chemicals into the US for the purpose of manufacturing the hard drug in the country.
“We are targeting every step of the movement, manufacturing, and sale of fentanyl from start to finish,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The Defendants shipped these precursors to the United States expressly intending that the chemicals would be used to produce fentanyl, even though they were under the impression that Americans had died after consuming fentanyl produced from their precursor chemicals.”
Fentanyl, a narcotic analgesic that can be abused as a recreational drug, is an addictive painkiller that acts on the central nervous system. It can be inhaled and also used to incapacitate people in hostage situations. The Justice Department said 107,735 people died of fentanyl overdose between 2021 and 2022 and that almost 200 people die from fentanyl poisoning on a daily basis.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Friday that “PRC companies are selling vast quantities of precursor chemicals to the drug cartels. The United States has urged the PRC to address the serious problem of illicit synthetic drug production and trafficking. We renew that call today.” She said operators from China use deceptive shipping labels and a network of contacts and warehouses across Mexico and the US to distribute the precursor chemicals for fentanyl.
Investigators said that operators often add ingredients that mask the content of the fentanyl that are shipped in batches to escape detection during transit. The operators provide the recipients with chemical instructions on how to unmask the ingredients after the shipment arrives so that the delivery can be properly processed into fentanyl.
DEA Administrator Anne Milgram on Friday told drug smugglers that “There is more bad news coming. With every investigation, with every indictment, we are coming after you.”