'China's Walter White' Tried to Solve Australia's Drug Dearth

$600K-per-month make-and-export business was going well until he got busted
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2016 12:00 PM CST
'China's Walter White' Convicted in $600K-a-Month Drug Scheme
This image released by AMC shows Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, in a scene from the second season of "Breaking Bad."   (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)

A 46-year-old chemistry professor identified only as Zhang, but who Time notes has been called "China's Walter White" in reference to the lead character of AMC's Breaking Bad, was convicted Tuesday of whipping up and selling 32 kilos of drugs—though prosecutors think the amount produced was really 10 times that, and included methylone and "zombie drug" Flakka. Per China Radio International, Zhang and his helpers—CRI says three men besides Zhang were involved, while Time speaks of "two accomplices"—took in $600,000 a month exporting drugs manufactured in an industrial park in Wuhan, Hubei province. The BBC notes the drugs were sold in the UK, the US, Canada, and Australia.

Zhang apparently hit upon the idea to create a Heisenberg-like drug factory in 2005 after visiting Australia and discovering certain psychoactive drugs were hard to come by there. He apparently wanted to please his customers, custom-creating drugs based on their needs by experimenting with various chemical techniques, per CRI. Workers were also trained to manufacture the drugs in bulk, and the drugs were said to be sent overseas via Western Union and via bitcoin transactions. The scheme fell apart in November 2015, when customs officers discovered parcels containing some of Zhang's product; his lab was raided in June. Zhang and his workers tried to avoid charges by insisting they were creating the drugs for research purposes, not for consumption. No date has been announced for sentencing. (A meth lab was found in a third-grade teacher's home.)

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