Fentanylis the deadliest opioid of all the opioids being abused in this country. It is said to be 50 times more powerful than pure heroin, making it very easy to overdose on the drug-hence the highest rate of fatal overdoses in this country can be attributed to Fentanyl. In 2017, an estimated 19,000 people died from Fentanyl overdoses.

Contributing to this epidemic is Fentanyl’s ease of manufacture and transport. It is a synthetic drug, requiring only chemicals, cheap equipment, and a little bit of knowledge to make. Most of the illicit Fentanyl on American streets are made in Chinese laboratories. Sometimes referred to as a “Drug Bazaar,” chemical laboratories operate all over China with little oversight or regulation. Many of the labs are producing fentanyl and fentanyl analogues by the tons. China denies this but there is plenty of evidence supporting the charge.

Moreover, the sale of fentanyl is an extremely lucrative business. By way of example: $1,000 worth of bulk heroin divided up into retail portions would net the dealer a profit of $4,000. The same purchase of bulk fentanyl from China would net a profit of $7.8 million! These figures, as incredible as they may seem, come from the Drug Enforcement Administration (per Bloomberg News).

Case in point: In September of last year, the federal government filed an indictment against a Chinese national, Xiaobing Yan, who through his chemical distribution company, 5A Pharmatech Co., was openly selling fentanyl to U.S. distributors and directly to consumers over the internet. The enterprise operated just like any other export business online. Yan’s company had a website with a menu of products and price lists that could be ordered and paid for online with a credit card or PayPal and shipped via UPS or other carriers with a tracking number and all.

Yan cleverly skirted Chinese law by modifying the formulations for the compound making sure the chemicals he used were legal in China as China periodically outlawed other chemicals used for fentanyl manufacture. The U.S. government alleges that Yan’s distribution network included over 100 distributors across the U.S. Yan is charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances and aiding and abetting others in the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. However, Yan’s business activities, while perhaps skirting on a gray area, were legal in China. He is beyond the reach of the U.S. Feds and China will not extradite him because he did not break Chinese law.

Federal authorities say Yan is only one of many people in China conducting this trade. While federal agents continue to investigate and track down the source of the fentanyl being sold on the streets of this country, the investigation often leads to China. With their limited reach, the federal authorities are unable to stop the export of fentanyl flooding the country.

Attorney William Weinberg has been practicing criminal defense in Orange County for 25 years. He is available for a free consultation to discuss options regarding your criminal matter. You can speak with him by calling his Irvine office at 949-474-8008 or you can email him at bill@williamweinberg.com.