Two Chinese nationals have been indicted on charges that they manufactured tons of fentanyl and other powerful narcotics that were then peddled in the U.S., the Associated Press reports. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments Tuesday, saying that the pair ran one of the world’s most prolific drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Also indicted were more than a dozen people accused of trafficking the drugs in the U.S. and Canada.
Authorities say the investigations of 40-year-old Xiaobang Yan and 38-year-old Jian Zhang show the many ways the deadly drug is flooding into the U.S. as it struggles with an abuse epidemic. Officials say U.S. customers could purchase pure fentanyl and other dangerous drugs online directly from Chinese factories. Inexperienced users may overdose because they don’t know the drug is pure. The Justice Department said the indictments were returned by federal grand juries in Mississippi and North Dakota. DOJ said the Chinese nationals “are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOT designations are those who have ‘command and control’ elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.”