The U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) disclosed eight fresh indictments against China-based companies and individuals implicated in fentanyl and its precursor chemicals production on Tuesday, amid the country’s ongoing opioid crisis.
These actions are an extension to the earlier prosecutions disclosed in June against chemical manufacturing firms and officials located in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco unveiled the charges, which encompass eight indictments against Chinese firms and 12 against nationals of China, on Tuesday.
These indictments center around allegations of fentanyl and methamphetamine production, synthetic opioid distribution, and sales of associated precursor chemicals by the indicted companies and their employees, according to a report from The Hill.
The Attorney General, Merrick Garland, emphasized the gravity of the issue, stating, “We know that the global fentanyl supply chain, which ends with the deaths of Americans, often starts with chemical companies in China.”
He conveyed the U.S. government’s dedication to dismantling this hazardous supply chain, aiming to eradicate fentanyl from American communities and to bring the individuals responsible to justice.
In elaboration, Monaco explained that the defendants utilized a multitude of trafficking strategies to discreetly conduct their lethal trade.
This includes “blatant online advertising and encrypted messaging apps to fake shipping schemes and bitcoin payments.”
She lauded the undercover operations conducted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) personnel who impersonated drug traffickers to identify shippers.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security ramped up its resources to halt these drug shipments.
The coordination extended to financial tracking carried out by the FBI and IRS to trace cryptocurrency payments, and postal workers who uncovered a scheme to transport the ingredients, The Hill emphasizes.
Monaco also acknowledged the contributions of Mexican prosecutors who collaborated with U.S. agencies to monitor chemical shipments, labeling it as a “whole-of-government effort.”
She stressed the significance of collective action, stating, “When we work together—sharing information, combining resources, and relentlessly pursuing justice—we can have a tremendous impact on those who would do us harm.”
The DOJ has categorized fentanyl as the most lethal drug menace confronting the U.S, noting its potency to be 50 times greater than heroin and 100 times greater than morphine.
They highlighted the extreme danger posed by this drug where a mere two milligrams could prove fatal to an adult.
The call for action extends beyond governmental bodies, as Monaco urged the private sector, especially social media companies, to intensify their efforts in thwarting cybercriminals.
She underscored the urgency of a unified approach in combating this crisis, exclaiming, “It must be all hands on deck.”