U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Indicts Ten In International Fentanyl Ring
Five defendants are Chinese nationals, and three have been captured in three different states
FARGO, N.D. — What started as an investigation over a fentanyl overdose in Grand Forks in 2015 snowballed into an international opioid ring with the source of the fentanyl traced back to China.
“They and their co–conspirators allegedly shipped fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from China through the mail and it killed people, killed people, in North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, and Grand Forks,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions announced in Fargo that ten additional defendants, including five Chinese nationals, are federally indicted for bringing fentanyl into the United States and Canada, as well as for money laundering.
“They used the internet, about 30 different aliases, cryptocurrencies, offshore accounts,” said Sessions.
In addition to the federal indictments, Sessions came to Fargo to praise state and local law enforcement officials for their handling of opioid cases.
“Each one of you played critical roles in the formation from virtually the beginning of the investigation which has become an international success story,” said Sessions.
Attorney General Sessions complimented North Dakota in his speech, saying that the state’s “Take Back Program” has made strides against the opioid crisis.
“You are taking aggressive action here to not let fentanyl get a foothold and that’s exactly the approach I’d like to see across the country,” said Sessions.
North Dakota’s “Take Back Program” is the first year–round, statewide prescription program in the country.
“Since we started that program in 2009, we have collected over 11 tons of unused medication, so we’re probably saving lives that might have been diverted or misused,” said Wayne Stenehjem, the North Dakota Attorney General.
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney says having the support of the federal government is a breath of fresh air.
“We all work for the same thing: the American people. And it doesn’t matter whether from North Dakota or from around the country, to see the head prosecutor in the country come in and say ‘we got your back’ is a very refreshing and exciting thing,” said Laney.
Sessions also announced that Jian Zhang, the leader of the fentanyl ring, becomes the first fentanyl kingpin to be federally sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, which means he is denied access to the U.S. financial system and possible business with American entities.