China Sentences 9 People for Fentanyl Trafficking

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China sentenced nine individuals Thursday who were directly linked to a fentanyl trafficking ring, according to the Associated Press.

Police stand guard outside the Xingtai Intermediate People's court in Xingtai, China's Hebei province, on November 7, 2019.

In addition to intensely powerful fentanyl, the traffickers sold other drugs, including alprazolam - the benzodiazepine tranquilizer that's often sold under the brand name Xanax - and cathinone, a stimulant derived from leaves of the khat shrub. More than 20 people were arrested as part of the three-month investigation. -Chinese probe related to fentanyl smuggling, and US officials also hailed the verdict. "The case has set a good example of China and the U.S. jointly fighting fentanyl-related crimes", Yu said. Liu Yong was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve while on the other hand, Jiang Juhua and Wang Fengxi were sentenced to life in prison. He said the case should not be connected to politics or the trade war, and the timing of the sentencing was the result of the legal process.

In 2016, when synthetic opioids overtook prescription opioids as the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the USA, illegal fentanyl was the primary cause, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The Hebei case began in 2017, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents tipped off the Chinese government that an worldwide fentanyl trafficking ring seemed to be operating out of China.

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In August, President Trump lashed out at Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to do more to combat illicit opioid distribution in China's vast, freewheeling chemicals industry. USA officials have reportedly moved to link Beijing's efforts on fentanyl to US trade talks.

Yu Haibin, deputy director of the Office of China National Narcotics Control Commission, on Thursday called allegations that Chinese supply is at the root of America's opioid problem "irresponsible and inconsistent with the actual facts".

"This further demonstrates the Chinese government's consistent attitude of zero tolerance towards drug crimes", he said. The court issued stiff prison sentences to nine people caught in an illegal fentanyl ring.

Yu Haibin, from China's National Narcotics Control Commission, said at the press conference that Beijing had maintained close communication with United States authorities. According to the United States and Chinese law enforcement, the enterprise resembled a small business where the salespersons spoke passable English and looked after the online marketing, contract manufacturing, and sophisticated export operation.

US officials have been hopeful that China's move earlier this year to outlaw unsanctioned distribution of all fentanyl-like drugs as a class will help constrain supply and make it easier to prosecute Chinese dealers.

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