Chinese National Indicted for his Role in Distributing Fentanyl that resulted in four drug overdoses in Oregon
The case is the result of a joint investigation involving the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in North Dakota and the District of Oregon and has resulted in criminal charges against 21 individuals from the United States, Canada, and China
PORTLAND – Today in Washington D.C., Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, along with United States Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams and United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota Christopher C. Myers, announced that Jian Zhang, 38, of China, has been indicted for a series of crimes related to his exportation of fentanyl from China into the United States. The indictment alleges that the fentanyl Zhang shipped from China resulted in multiple drug overdoses across the country, including four overdoses that occurred within the District of Oregon in 2015.
This prosecution is the result of a unique and joint investigation between two United States Attorney Offices and has led to multiple indictments in both districts. In the most recent North Dakota Indictment dated September 20, 2017, Zhang, along with five Canadian citizens, two residents of Florida, and a resident of New Jersey were charged, with among other things, of being involved in a criminal Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and Controlled Substance Analogues Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and Death.
"The illegal distribution of fentanyl and related opioids is a true national crisis that has left a trail of death and destruction across the country," stated U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams. "This case highlights both the international scope of the problem and the willingness and ability of our two districts to work together to reach out across borders to shut down and prosecute these merchants of death – I am proud of the work our team has done."
The investigation started in North Dakota on January 3, 2015, with the fentanyl overdose death of an 18-year old individual in Grand Forks. Investigators subsequently identified the source of the fentanyl as a Darknet distributor operating out of Portland, Oregon. On January 22, 2015, in a coordinated law enforcement mission, a federal search warrant was executed on the fentanyl dealer’s residence in Southeast Portland and he was arrested. After making an initial appearance in Oregon, the dealer, Brandon Corde Hubbard, age 40, was indicted in North Dakota, where he was prosecuted and sentenced to serve life in federal prison.
As a result of this joint effort and prior to the most recent Indictment against Zhang and others, eight additional individuals were indicted in North Dakota and three defendants were indicted in Oregon. So far, 21 individuals from China, Canada, and the United States have been indicted on federal drug charges in both North Dakota and Oregon. The Oregon defendants are:
1. Channing Lacey, 30, Portland, Oregon - Pled guilty on 3/28/17 to one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury to three individuals and one count of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death. On 8/28/17 she was sentenced to 135 months imprisonment.
2. Carissa Marie Laprall, 25, Portland, Oregon - Pled guilty on 3/28/17 to three counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury and is awaiting sentencing.
3. Steven Fairbanks Locke, 41, Portland, Oregon - Pled guilty on 6/14/17 to Use of a Communication Facility to Facilitate a Drug Offense and is awaiting sentencing.
All charges are part of "Operation Denial," an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation into the international trafficking of fentanyl and other lethal
drugs, and was significantly aided by the national and international coordination led by the multi-agency Special Operations Division (S.O.D.) near Washington D.C. as part of
"Operation Deadly Merchant." The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. Prior to his indictment, Zhang was designated as an OCDETF Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT), and is considered by the United States as one of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world.
This case is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations; Drug Enforcement Administration; United States Postal Inspection Service; Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force; Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Portland Oregon Police Bureau – Drugs and Vice Division; Portland HIDTA Interdiction Task Force; Oregon State Police; Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office; and, the Grand Forks Police Department.
United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota Christopher C. Myers, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Scott Kerin (who is also acting as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in North Dakota), and Adrienne Rose of the Department of Justice, Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs section, are jointly prosecuting the Zhang case in North Dakota.
## The Indictment in this case is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.