Chinese Nationals Charged with Alleged Synthetic Opioid Conspiracy

Drug Trafficking China
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Two Chinese nationals were indicted Wednesday for allegedly making and selling deadly drugs leading to the fatal overdoses of two American citizens in Ohio.

Fujing Zheng, also known as Gordon Jin, 35, and his father, Guanghua Zheng, 62, are accused of operating a global opioid and drug manufacturing conspiracy where the fatal drugs were sent to 37 states and 25 countries, according to the indictment released Wednesday by the Justice Department.

The Justice Department said the drugs sold led to the deaths of two men in Akron, Ohio, who fatally overdosed on the drugs.

The suspects used multiple companies to manufacture and distribute a number of controlled substances, including fentanyl analogues, according to the indictment.

The indictment states that the Zhengs also created websites to market and sell the illegal drugs in at least 35 different languages.

“Fentanyl and its analogues are the number one killer drug in America today, and most of them come from China,” Attorney General Sessions said in a statement. “By cutting off fentanyl and its analogues at the source, we can save American lives.”

Sessions’ DOJ has called for harsh penalties for extreme drug offenders, including the death penalty for the most serious cases. The attorney general released a memo in March citing the number of American deaths caused by overdoses from fentanyl and its analogues, urging prosecutors to consider the death penalty for cases where deaths occurred.

“Drug overdoses, including overdoses caused by the lethal substance fentanyl and its analogues, killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016 and now rank as the leading cause of death for Americans under 50,” Sessions explained in his memo.

“To combat this deadly epidemic, federal prosecutors must consider every lawful tool at their disposal,” Sessions added. “In addition, this should also include the pursuit of capital punishment in appropriate cases.”

The Chinese nationals, both from Shanghai, face multiple charges, including several counts of conspiracy, operating a criminal enterprise, and money laundering. If convicted, both men could face life in prison because the drugs caused the deaths of two citizens.

“DEA will relentlessly pursue anyone shipping deadly fentanyl analogues to the United States wherever they may be and bring them to justice,” said DEA Acting Administrator Dhillon. “These Chinese drug traffickers are directly responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens and we will hold them accountable in a U.S. court of law.”

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