The Department of Justice (DOJ) has unsealed eight indictments against Chinese companies and their employees related to cases involving fentanyl, methamphetamines, and precursor chemicals used in their production.
These indictments constitute the second wave of prosecutions since June targeting China-based chemical manufacturing firms and Chinese individuals for trafficking precursor chemicals of fentanyl into the United States.
In 2022, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, were implicated in more than two-thirds (68%) of the reported 107,081 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The majority of this fentanyl is manufactured by Mexican drug cartels using chemicals imported from China.
Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the connection between Chinese chemical companies and the global fentanyl supply chain. He stated that the U.S. government’s priority is to disrupt every link in this chain, remove fentanyl from American communities, and bring those responsible to justice.
Five of the indictments were unveiled in the middle district of Florida and charged five Chinese corporations and eight Chinese nationals with illegally importing fentanyl and related chemicals into the U.S.
These defendants allegedly openly advertised their ability to circumvent U.S. Customs and Border Protection and supply the chemicals used to produce fentanyl to Florida and other parts of the U.S.
Additionally, eight of the defendants face charges of international money laundering. The indictments reveal that these Chinese companies successfully maintained a consistent supply to clients in Mexico for several years.
In the southern district of Florida, three indictments were issued, targeting three Chinese companies and four of their officers and employees.
The charges include fentanyl trafficking, synthetic opioid trafficking, precursor chemical importation, defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, and producing and using counterfeit postage.
Markenzy Lapointe, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida, emphasized that combating those who contribute to the opioid epidemic is a top priority, regardless of their location or identity.
The illicit precursors and synthetic opioids being distributed in the U.S. and Mexico are mixed and redistributed locally as potent and potentially lethal controlled substances.
This crackdown on Chinese companies and individuals involved in the fentanyl supply chain underscores the ongoing efforts to combat the opioid crisis and its devastating impact on American communities.