Two Chinese citizens from Shanghai were charged for running a wide-ranging conspiracy involving operating a criminal enterprise, importing drugs, and money laundering. Prosecutors said the drugs directly led to the overdose deaths of two people in Akron, Ohio.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the unsealing of the 43-count indictment at a federal court in Cleveland, Ohio on Aug. 22, which charged Zheng Fujing, as known as Gordon Jin, 35, and his father, Zheng Guanghua, 62, for manufacturing and shipping fentanyl analogues and 250 other drugs to at least 25 countries and 37 states throughout America, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
Authorities said that since 2008, the two men operated the Zheng drug trafficking organization (Zheng DTO), under the guises of many companies, such as Global United Biotechnology, Golden Chemicals, Cambridge Chemicals, and others, to manufacture and distribute various synthetic opioids around the world, including fentanyl, which is roughly 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and the elephant tranquilizer drug carfentanil, a drug 100 times more powerful than fentanyl.
The group also created and maintained numerous websites to advertise and sell illegal drugs in more than 35 languages, according to the indictment. Authorities said that online and in emails, the Zheng DTO boasted about its ability to manufacture custom drugs and avoid detection from customs and law enforcement when shipping the drugs to the United States, Russia, and Europe.
The Zheng ZTO claimed to ship “over 16 tonnes of chemicals every month” from its “own laboratory” and to have the capability to “synthesize nearly any chemical on a bespoke basis in any quantity,” according to the Department of Justice press release.
All told, the Zheng enterprise sent millions of doses of fentanyl, its analogues, and other drugs to the United States and other countries around the world that have led to overdoses.
Federal authorities’ traced the deaths of two Ohio residents, Thomas Rauh, 37, and Carrie Dobbins, 23, on or about March 21 and 28, 2015, to the Zhengs: they used acetyl fentanyl that was manufactured by the Zheng organization, leading to their overdoses.
The Zheng DTO laundered its drug money using digital currency such as Bitcoin, and transmitted funds in and out of bank accounts in China and Hong Kong.
The two suspects face life imprisonment because the drugs involved resulted in deaths.
“This group has shipped deadly fentanyl analogues and other drugs around the globe for a decade. Law enforcement will follow the evidence wherever it leads, including overseas, to stop the flow of drugs that have caused so much heartbreak and destruction in Ohio.” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman in the press release.
“Fentanyl and its analogues are the number one killer drug in America today, and most of them come from China,” Sessions said in the press release. “By cutting off fentanyl and its analogues at the source, we can save American lives.”