A Chinese court sentenced nine fentanyl traffickers Thursday in a case that was a culmination of a rare collaboration between Chinese and US law enforcement to crack down on global networks that manufacture and distribute lethal synthetic opioids. Liu Yong was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, while Jiang Juhua and Wang Fengxi were sentenced to life in prison. Six other members of the operation got lesser sentences, ranging from six months to ten years. Working off a 2017 tip from the US Department of Homeland Security about an online drug vendor who went by the name Diana, Chinese police busted a drug ring based in the northern Chinese city of Xingtai that shipped synthetic drugs to the US and other countries from a gritty clandestine laboratory, the AP reports.
They arrested more than 20 criminal suspects and seized around 26 pounds of fentanyl as well as 42 pounds of other drugs. Liu and Jiang were accused of manufacturing and trafficking illicit drugs. The others were accused of trafficking. Liu's death sentence is likely to be commuted to life in prison after the reprieve. Chinese officials said the Xingtai case was one of three fentanyl trafficking networks they are pursuing based on US intelligence, but declined to discuss the details of the other cases, which are ongoing. Austin Moore, a Homeland Security attaché to China, said the Xingtai case was "an important step" showing that Chinese and US investigators have the capacity to collaborate across international borders.
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