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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 19, 2017

First in the Nation Criminal Indictment of a Chinese National for Manufacturing and Distributing Fentanyl and Other Opiates

 

Gulfport, Miss- A federal grand jury in the Southern District of Mississippi recently indicted a Chinese national for conspiracy to distribute large quantities of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues and other deadly chemicals in the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam, Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety Marshall Fisher and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Director John M. Dowdy, Jr.

This Chinese national is the first manufacturer and distributor of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be indicted in the history of the United States while being designated as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT). CPOT designations are those who have "command and control" elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and are considered by DEA to be some of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world. On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances. According to the Indictment, Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country. Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks. Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network. In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.

"This case illustrates that the opioid crisis we face is a global epidemic with international roots and deadly outcomes in our local communities. The President and Attorney General have made combating this scourge a priority and we will continue to pursue local traffic stops involving these horrific substances all the way up to the international drug kingpins that supply them in order to safeguard and protect our citizens. Our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners are to be commended, as they are united with us in this effort and we together will not be stopped," said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam stated: "Opioids, including fentanyl, are killing people across this country at horrific rates. In this investigation, law enforcement literally reached across a hemisphere to strike a blow against a criminal drug trafficking organization that was a vital lifeline to several domestic manufacturing and distribution networks. DEA is proud to be part of this historical effort in fighting this opioid crisis. This indictment alleges that Xiaobing Yan manufactured and imported tons of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues into the United States. Currently, a criminal drug trafficking organization that misused technology to open the world’s medicine cabinet, placing unbridled greed before public health and safety, has been stopped."

"At a rate of 175 overdose deaths per day, agencies working together on cases like this one is essential to the fight against the opioid epidemic plaguing our state and nation as a whole," said Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher. "Citizens need to be aware of the dangers of ordering illicit drugs online and the gravity of the number of people that are dying from doing so."

"This indictment is a significant enforcement action that hopefully will help curb the tide in the opioid epidemic we’re fighting," said MBN Director John Dowdy. "Our partnerships with the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s office will continue to be invaluable in this fight. Fentanyl is a death drug and we must use every available asset to get this killer off our streets."

"This case is evidence of how illegal substances on the streets of our communities are provided through complex organizations that cross local, state and national borders." said Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania. "It also shows that no criminal organization can avoid the collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement efforts."

The indictment announced today is the result of a coordinated, multi-agency, multi-national investigation conducted by agents and investigators of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a partnership between federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies, including in this case Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Gulfport, and D'Iberville Police Departments, and the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

If convicted, Yan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and three years of supervised release.

The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Updated October 19, 2017