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U.S. slaps sanctions on Chinese national accused of fentanyl trafficking

May 4, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
U.S. slaps sanctions on Chinese national accused of fentanyl trafficking

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On Friday, the United States Treasury Department placed sanctions on alleged Chinese drug lord Jian Zhang, along with four associates who are accused of immersing the U.S. with the deadly drug fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid blamed for almost of third of the country’s lethal overdoses.

In October, Jian Zhang was indicted as part of a joint U.S.-Chinese probe into international drug trafficking and remains on the lam.

However, categorizing Jian as a top trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act permits law enforcement agencies to go after his financial assets internationally.

“Treasury is targeting Zhang’s fentanyl network, which has contributed to American deaths related to the opioid crisis,” Sigal Mandelker, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, announced in a press release. “This will disrupt the flow of fentanyl and other opioids into the United States, and serves as a warning that Treasury will target the assets of those who deal in illicit opioids and narcotics.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated that in a speech he gave in North Dakota, where the probe into Jian’s purported operation was driven by the death of 18-year-old Bailey Henke back in 2015. He was killed of a fentanyl overdose that authorities traced back to one of Jian’s factories located outside of Shanghai.

“Any assets in which they have an interest — either in the United States or the possession of an American — must be blocked and reported to the Treasury Department,” Sessions stated. “This is the first time that Treasury has designated a fentanyl trafficker for sanctions.”

Jian’s company is called Zaron Bio-Tech (Asia) Ltd. It is registered in Hong Kong and also manufactures food additives. Detectives believe that the fentanyl that killed Henke was sent from that factory.

Jian is also reportedly running chemical plants in Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore.

The government identified his four accomplices as Na Chu, Yeyou Chu, Cuiying Liu and Keping Zhang. They are also at large.

The federal government has charged 32 suspects thus far with being part of a network that has supplied a sprawling fentanyl distribution enterprise in the U.S. and Canada.

“This was an elaborate and sophisticated conspiracy,” Sessions continued. “They used the internet, 30 different aliases, cryptocurrency, offshore accounts, encrypted communications, and allegedly laundered funds through third parties.”

Most of the illegal fentanyl in the U.S. originates from China. Sessions added that it arrives via mail or is smuggled across the border from Mexico

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