National Security

DOJ unveils fentanyl cases against Chinese companies and nationals

The Justice Department (DOJ) on Tuesday announced eight indictments against Chinese companies and nationals in cases involving fentanyl and the precursor chemicals used to produce the deadly drug.

The indictments charge China-based companies and their employees with crimes relating to fentanyl and methamphetamine production, the distribution of synthetic opioids and sales of the chemicals used to make them.

“We know that the global fentanyl supply chain, which ends with the deaths of Americans, often starts with chemical companies in China,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The United States government is focused on breaking apart every link in that chain, getting fentanyl out of our communities, and bringing those who put it there to justice.”

The indictments are in addition to prosecutions announced in June against China-based chemical manufacturing companies and officials in the People’s Republic of China.

The new charges include eight indictments against Chinese companies and 12 against Chinese nationals, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced Tuesday.

“As alleged in today’s indictments, the defendants used a range of trafficking tactics to ply their deadly trade and cover their tracks – from blatant online advertising and encrypted messaging apps to fake shipping schemes and bitcoin payments,” Monaco said.

Monaco said Drug Enforcement Agency employees went undercover, posing as drug traffickers to identify shippers, while employees at the Department of Homeland Security surged resources to stop the shipments. The FBI and IRS tracked crypto payments and postal employees exposed a plan to deliver the ingredients, she added.

Monaco also thanked the efforts of Mexican prosecutors who worked with the U.S. to track shipments of the chemicals.

“This was a whole-of-government effort,” Monaco said. “When we work together – sharing information, combining resources, and relentlessly pursuing justice – we can have a tremendous impact on those who would do us harm.”

Fentanyl is the deadliest drug threat facing the U.S. It is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. A dose as small as two milligrams can kill a grown adult, the DOJ said in its release.

Monaco called on the private sector to step up, too. Social media companies need to police their platforms to avert harm from cyber criminals, she said.

“It must be all hands on deck,” Monaco said.

Tags China Department of Justice DOJ fentanyl Lisa Monaco Merrick Garland