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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.

Confirmed Cases: 4086

Reported Deaths: 151
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah110359
Marion93125
Washington71517
Clackamas30411
Deschutes1210
Linn1159
Umatilla1143
Polk9811
Yamhill697
Lane672
Jackson650
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath410
Malheur330
Coos310
Douglas250
Jefferson250
Josephine251
Wasco211
Columbia160
Hood River130
Morrow120
Lincoln100
Crook60
Curry60
Union60
Tillamook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 103813

Reported Deaths: 3993
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles498602241
Riverside7341313
San Diego7100260
Orange5744142
San Bernardino4914190
Alameda309794
Santa Clara2701140
San Francisco243740
San Mateo202282
Kern200737
Tulare183580
Fresno165832
Santa Barbara163612
Imperial144326
Contra Costa138437
Sacramento134956
Ventura106232
San Joaquin84235
Kings7043
Stanislaus68328
Sonoma5304
Solano50922
Monterey4699
Marin43614
Merced2807
San Luis Obispo2681
Yolo20723
Santa Cruz2062
Placer1969
Napa1113
Humboldt983
Madera942
San Benito852
El Dorado840
Del Norte440
Sutter422
Nevada411
Butte400
Shasta374
Mono351
Yuba281
Mendocino250
Lake230
Inyo191
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Glenn140
Amador100
Siskiyou60
Colusa50
Lassen50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
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