A mainland court sentenced nine fentanyl traffickers on Thursday in a case that is the 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 received lesser sentences, ranging from six months to 10 years. Death sentences are almost always commuted to life in prison after the reprieve.
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 Xingtai that shipped synthetic drugs illicitly to the US. from a gritty clandestine laboratory.
They arrested more than 20 suspects and seized 11.9 kilogrammes of fentanyl and 19.1kg of other drugs.
In form, the enterprise resembled a small business, with a perky sales force that spoke passable English, online marketing, contract manufacturing, and a sophisticated export operation, according to U.S. and Chinese law enforcement.
Police photographs of the seizure show a dingy, chaotic scene, with open containers of unidentified chemicals and Chinese police in rubber gloves and breathing masks.
Liu and Jiang were accused of manufacturing and trafficking illicit drugs. The others were accused of trafficking.
Austin Moore, an attaché to China for the US Homeland Security Department, said the Xingtai case was "an important step" showing that Chinese and US investigators are able to collaborate across international borders. (AP)