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Suspected Fentanyl Traffickers Charged After Deaths

Overdose deaths linked to the trafficking operation have been reported in four states so far—including Oregon.

Posted: Apr 27, 2018 10:03 AM
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 3:27 PM

By DAVE KOLPACK , Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — U.S. prosecutors said Friday they have charged 10 more people in an international fentanyl trafficking operation that led to overdose deaths in four states.

The new indictments bring the total number to 32 people accused of dealing large amounts of the powerful opioid in the U.S. and Canada. Five of them are fugitive Chinese nationals, including alleged ringleader Jian Zhang.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement in North Dakota, where authorities began investigating the case after the overdose death of a teenager in 2015. Deaths have also been reported in North Carolina, New Jersey and Oregon.

The Treasury Department also has sanctioned the five Chinese nationals, including Zhang and his biotechnology company. Any assets in which they have an interest must be reported to the department, which is meant to prevent them from doing business with anyone in the U.S. It's the first time the department has sanctioned an alleged fentanyl trafficker, Sessions said.

"We are going to use all the tools available at our disposal and we appreciate the Treasury Department using its authority to make this designation," U.S. Attorney Chris Myers of North Dakota told The Associated Press.

The "vast majority" of fentanyl is manufactured in China, Sessions said. He said the Chinese government has provided some help to U.S. law enforcement, but not enough. "We need greater cooperation on that," he said.

The investigation known as "Operation Denial" began when 18-year-old Bailey Henke was found dead inside a Grand Forks apartment building in January 2015. Authorities say Henke overdosed on fentanyl supplied by Brandon Hubbard, a Portland, Oregon, man who told police he could be the largest fentanyl dealer in the country. Hubbard was sentenced in 2016 to life in prison.

Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and can be lethal even in small amounts. It is often laced with other dangerous drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the drug and its analogues killed more than 20,000 Americans in 2016. Music superstar Prince died from an accidental overdose of fentanyl in 2016. About 64,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses that same year, Sessions said.

"That's more than the population of Grand Forks, dead in one year from drug overdoses," Sessions said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5061240

Reported Deaths: 74159
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152548627128
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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