Two Chinese Nationals Charged with Operating Global Opioid and Drug Manufacturing Conspiracy

Cleveland, OH–Two Chinese citizens were charged today with operating a conspiracy that manufactured and shipped deadly fentanyl analogues and 250 other drugs to at least 25 countries and 37 states.  It is alleged that the drugs sold by the group directly led to the fatal overdoses of two people in Akron, Ohio.

Fujing Zheng, aka Gordon Jin, 35, and his father Guanghua Zheng, 62, both of whom reside in Shanghai, China, are charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to import controlled substances into the United States, operating a continued criminal enterprise, money laundering and other crimes.

The charges carry a potential sentence of life imprisonment because the drugs involved resulted in death, and the defendants’ conduct qualifies for an enhancement under the kingpin statute.

According to the indictment, the Zhengs and others used numerous companies, including Global United Biotechnology, Golden Chemicals, Golden RC, Cambridge Chemicals, Wonda Science, and others, to manufacture and distribute hundreds of controlled substances, including fentanyl analogues such as carfentanil, acetyl fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, and others. They created and maintained numerous websites to advertise and sell illegal drugs in more than 35 languages.

From 2008 to the present, the Zheng drug trafficking organization (Zheng DTO) engaged in this conspiracy from its base of operations in Shanghai. The organization claimed to ship “over 16 tonnes of chemicals every month” from its “own laboratory” and to “synthesize nearly any chemical on a bespoke basis in any quantity.”

The Zheng DTO touted its ability to create custom-ordered drugs and avoid detection from customs and law enforcement when shipping the drugs. The Zheng DTO explained in emails and online that it had “special ways” to “go through customs safely” in “USA, Russia, Europe,” and other locations around the world.  If customs still managed to seize the parcels, the DTO promised it would “re-ship free.”

The Zheng DTO used co-conspirators in other countries, including the United States, to receive, repackage, and redistribute the drug shipments, thereby hiding their Chinese origin. For example, it used companies run by Massachusetts-based co-conspirator Bin Wang to smuggle drugs past customs agents in China and the United States. Wang then shipped the drugs to customers across the country.

Wang has pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 13.

The Zheng DTO has sent millions of lethal doses of fentanyl analogues and other drugs linked to overdoses in the United States and around the world.

On Feb. 15, 2015, Akron, Ohio resident, Leroy Steele, emailed the Zheng DTO saying he “would like to purchase Acetyl fentanyl.” The Zheng DTO explained in its correspondence with Steele that it was “a professional acetyl fentanyl manufacturer in China” and that “a lot of U.S. and Europe customers purchase largely from us monthly.”  The acetyl fentanyl that the Zheng DTO distributed to Steele resulted in the overdose deaths in Ohio of Thomas Rauh, 37, and Carrie Dobbins, 23, on or about March 21 and 28, 2015.

Steele was subsequently convicted of drug offenses and is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Despite the deadly consequences of its actions, the Zheng DTO continued manufacturing and distributing drugs. In 2015, it advertised that it delivered “to all 50 USA states” and “worldwide to Australia, Europe, Asia and Africa.”

When China would ban a synthetic narcotic, the Zheng DTO would use its chemical expertise to create an analogue of the drug with a slightly different chemical structure but the same or even more potent effect. In this manner, the DTO entirely bypassed China’s restrictions on international narcotics sales.

Last month, the Zheng DTO agreed to manufacture adulterated cancer medication, creating counterfeit pills that replaced the active cancer-fighting ingredient with dangerous synthetic drugs. It also created and shipped counterfeit Adderall pills that were adulterated with deadly bath salts.

The Zheng DTO laundered its drug proceeds by using digital currency such as Bitcoin, transmitted drug proceeds into and out of bank accounts in China and Hong Kong, and bypassed currency restrictions and reporting requirements.

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