Sessions Unseals 43-Count Indictment Against Chinese Nationals Trafficking Fentanyl

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is charging two Chinese citizens for manufacturing and trafficking fentanyl into the U.S. linked to two fatal overdoses in Ohio.

Sessions announced the 43-count indictment Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio, which accuses 43-year-old Fujing Zheng and his father, 62-year-old Guanghua Zheng, of operating an international network trafficking synthetic opioids and 250 other drugs into 25 countries and 37 U.S. states, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The pair, based in Shanghai, China, operate the Zheng drug trafficking organization, which officials say has “shipped deadly fentanyl analogues and other drugs around the globe for a decade.” (RELATED: Portman Says ‘The President Is Waiting, Pen In Hand’ For Opioid Bill Targeting Fentanyl Trafficking)

“Fentanyl and its analogues are the number one killer drug in America today, and most of them come from China,” Sessions said Wednesday. “That’s why the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump has taken historic new steps against the threat of Chinese fentanyl. … Today we are announcing an indictment of the leaders of the Zheng drug trafficking organization based in China, who the indictment alleges sold drugs that have killed at least two Ohioans. … By cutting off fentanyl and its analogues at the source, we can save American lives.”

The group allegedly uses a myriad of companies such as Global United Biotechnology and Cambridge Chemicals to manufacture and ship various synthetic opioids across the world, including fentanyl, a substance roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil, which is roughly 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.

Large quantities of narcotics continue to infiltrate the U.S. due to the relentless efforts of traffickers. However, the Department of Justice under Sessions is gaining ground against drug movers taking advantage of America’s opioid scourge.

Federal officials recently scored a major victory against narcotics traffickers during an investigation of a distribution network in West Virginia, confiscating enough fentanyl to kill a quarter million Americans.

U.S. attorney Mike Stuart, serving the Southern District of West Virginia, announced on April 17 charges against nearly 100 individuals involved in the massive drug trafficking ring operating in West Virginia and Michigan. The investigation, dubbed Operation Saigon Sunset, targeted the multi-state Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization and involved more than 200 law enforcement officers from federal, state and local levels.

Federal authorities charged 75 people in March for money laundering and narcotics trafficking, including fentanyl, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Department of Justice unsealed 40 indictments on March 8 in a San Diego federal court, detailing how a network of individuals conspired to launder tens of millions of dollars in drug cash between 2015 and 2018. Another 35 people were charged over the course of the DOJ’s multi-year investigation into the organization’s criminal activity.

Drug overdoses, fueled by synthetic opioids, are the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50.

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