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Highly potent Chinese fentanyl ushering in an age of new drug lords

May 27, 2018  |  Posted by: Michael Falzarano
Highly potent Chinese fentanyl ushering in an age of new drug lords

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How the potency of Fentanyl has transformed the global trafficking — and policing — of narcotics.

By Bloomberg News

Outside the gates of a residential complex called Oak Bay, a construction frenzy tears up the central Chinese city of Wuhan, a metropolis of 11 million racing to catch up with Beijing and Shanghai. The aural assault of jackhammers and cement trucks fades at the walls of the complex. Inside, a leafy oasis of manicured grounds and winding red-brick walkways draws out residents for early morning tai chi sessions near the banks of the Yangtze River.

Among the 5,000 apartments, on a high-rise’s 20th floor, lives Yan Xiaobing, a chemicals distributor with short, spiky hair. His wife, Hu Qi, operates an English tutoring business. Their social-media feed shows the couple and their two young children under blue skies at the beach and posing at landmarks in Europe and Japan. One photo shows Yan reading to pupils in a classroom.

In half-frame glasses, blue plastic house slippers and button-down shirt, Yan could have passed as an ordinary office worker when Bloomberg News reporters found him late last year. Filling the apartment doorway with his 6-foot frame, he expressed soft-spoken bafflement at the portrait the U.S. Justice Department paints of him: not a modest businessman, but a new type of international drug dealer. “This is horrifying,” he said. “Their investigation must have gone wrong.”

Federal prosecutors in Mississippi charged Yan, 41, in September with leading an empire built on the manufacture and sale of drugs related to fentanyl, one of the world’s deadliest and most profitable narcotics.

So strong that it’s been studied as a chemical weapon, the drug has saturated American streets with breathtaking speed: It kills more people than any other opioid, including prescription pills and heroin, because it’s so easy to overdose. Authorities say they have linked Yan and his 9W Technology Co. to more than 100 distributors across the U.S. and at least 20 other countries. Investigators expect scores of arrests as they dismantle his alleged network.

Read the rest of the report from Bloomberg News

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