Treasury Targets Chinese 'Kingpins' In Opioid Distribution Crackdown

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a crackdown on international opioid trafficking, including coordinated actions by the US Treasury against Chinese nationals accused of being "significant foreign narcotics traffickers." 

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control identified Fujing Zheng (Zheng) and the Zheng Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Chinese national Guanghua Zheng was also designated for his support of the organization. 

"The Chinese kingpins that OFAC designated today run an international drug trafficking operation that manufactures and sells lethal narcotics, directly contributing to the crisis of opioid addiction, overdoses, and death in the United States.  Zheng and Yan have shipped hundreds of packages of synthetic opioids to the U.S., targeting customers through online advertising and sales, and using commercial mail carriers to smuggle their drugs into the United States," according to Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. 

Zheng created several websites to sell drugs in over 35 languages, and touted his ability to avoid detection by customs and law enforcement officials. 

According to the Treasury, Zheng's organization "used its chemical expertise to create analogues of drugs with slightly different chemical structures but the same or even more potent effect. The Zheng DTO even agreed to manufacture adulterated cancer medication, creating counterfeit pills that replaced the active cancer-fighting ingredient with dangerous synthetic drugs."

The group laundered their drug proceeds using digital currency and bank accounts in China and Hong Kong.