US Sanctions 4 China-Based Individuals, Firm Over Fentanyl

July 19, 2020 Updated: July 19, 2020

WASHINGTON—The United States announced sanctions against four China-based individuals and a company run by alleged Chinese drug kingpin Zheng Fujing for links to trafficking in fentanyl.

The U.S. Treasury Department on July 17 identified the individuals as Ji Songyan, Zhang Longbao, Cheng Guifeng, and Zheng Guangfu, and the firm as Global United Biotechnology Inc., which it said was owned and operated by the Zheng Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) run by Zheng Fujing.

The Treasury identified Zheng Fujing and the Zheng DTO as significant foreign narcotics traffickers under the U.S. Kingpin Act last August.

“Fentanyl and other drugs have caused overwhelming devastation to communities across America,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said. “The United States is committed to holding drug traffickers and those who facilitate their operations accountable for the suffering they impose upon American families.”

The four individuals were designated for allegedly facilitating purchases of fentanyl and other drugs for the Zheng organization, a Treasury statement said.

It said the Zheng DTO laundered drug proceeds using digital currency such as bitcoin and transmitted proceeds into and out of bank accounts in China and Hong Kong.

Global United Biotechnology was “a virtual storefront for the Zheng DTO,” Treasury said. The designation means all property of the individuals and Zheng DTO in the United States must be blocked and reported.

Fentanyl is a cheap painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin that has played a major role in a devastating opioid crisis in the United States; more than 28,000 synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths were recorded in 2017.

U.S. officials say China is the main source of illicit fentanyl. President Donald Trump has accused Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping of failing to meet promises to help stop the flow of the drug into the United States.

By David Brunnstrom