By R Carter
The image above shows a 1 Kg brick of illegal Chinese fentanyl.
DEA officials announced on November 7, 2019, a Fentanyl bust in cooperation with Chinese officials which netted enough of the substance to kill 6 million people. 9 Chinese citizens were arrested and a Chinese court imposed a suspended death sentence on one and life imprisonment for the remaining eight, all pleaded guilty to smuggling fentanyl into the U.S.
The drug traffickers had advertised fentanyl and other drugs online with a promise of reliable shipping to the U.S. and other countries. The traffickers were caught with 11.9 kilograms of fentanyl, with an average concentration of 200mg per gram, 2mg being enough to kill the average person.
“China said the arrest of the nine individuals resulted from the first joint fentanyl investigation carried out with the U.S., beginning from a tip by U.S. Homeland Security,” NPR’s Emily Feng reports from Taipei, Taiwan. She adds, “U.S. authorities have carried out three ‘major criminal arrests’ in New York and Oregon as part of the same case.”
In addition to fentanyl the group was also selling alprazolam a benzodiazepine often known as Xanax. The Chinese court imposed the most severe penalties allowed under Chinese law. The investigation began in 2017 when U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents tipped off the Chinese government that an international fentanyl trafficking ring seemed to be operating out of China. In the three month investigation, Chinese police arrested more than 20 people and raided a production center.
China has placed all fentanyl related drugs on its list of controlled substances in May of 2019, a step that was cheered by U.S. officials who said it would eliminate loopholes that had hampered efforts to prosecute drug suppliers and manufacturers.
After more than a three year effort to enlist the help of the Chinese government in stopping illegal fentanyl trafficking out of China, efforts are finally producing substantial results. Having shut down the worst of U.S. healthcare providers prescribing for profit, the DEA should be commended for their efforts to thwart the illegal importation of these substances into the U.S.