A tip from American authorities led to the arrest of nine people in China charged with manufacturing and trafficking the lethal opioid fentanyl.
The US Department of Homeland Security tipped off Chinese authorities to an online vendor of the drug who went by the pseudonym “Diana.” Officials raided an illicit lab that produced and shipped the drug to the US and other countries.
Around 11.9 kilograms of fentanyl were taken off the market, while another 19.1 kilograms of other narcotics were also seized. Fentanyl is believed to be up to 100 times more potent than morphine and has a lethal dosage of three milligrams.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, over 10,300 Canadians have died between 2016 and 2018 of opioid overdoses. In 2018, 73 per cent of all opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl.
A 2018 Global News investigation revealed that a majority of the fentanyl market in BC revolves around a Chinese crime network called the “Big Circle Boys” which has its roots in the mainland. BC has been hit the hardest by the opioid crisis, in 2018 the province reported a total of 1,500 overdoses as a result of opioid abuse.
“There are so many players we identified in BC. But this is all directed from inside China. At the very top they are insulated. It’s government officials,” an unnamed international policing expert told Global News.
Earlier this year, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer urged the federal government to “hold China accountable” with regard to the opioid crisis. Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promises to cooperate with the Chinese government to curb the import of the deadly drug, the flow is likely not going to end.
The latest bust shows the US government is continuing to put pressure on China. At the urging of President Donald Trump, the Chinese government announced earlier this year it would ban all variants of fentanyl and declare them controlled substances.
The arrests resulted in one death sentence, several life imprisonments and a number of lower sentences. U.S. authorities have also cracked down on buyers in the country and have identified a total of 50 residents who attempted to buy the drug from the Chinese vendor.