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The US Department of Justice has opened criminal cases against eight Chinese companies and their 14 employees for drug distribution using digital assets.
“We know that the global supply of fentanyl that ends up killing Americans begins with chemical companies in China,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The firms are suspected of producing fentanyl and methamphetamine, distributing synthetic opioids and selling precursor chemicals, authorities said.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has already designated 28 individuals and entities involved in these crimes.
Law enforcement discovered that the Chinese drug supply chain ends in the Middle and Southern counties of Florida. Some of the illicit substances were sent directly by mail using intermediaries, counterfeit stamps and fabricated declarations.
“These companies typically use cryptocurrency transactions to hide their identity, as well as the location and movement of funds,” the Ministry of Justice emphasized.
The main suppliers of fentanyl to the United States are the Mexican cartels Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva. Organized crime groups order derivatives for the preparation of substances from China, authorities added.
The investigation involved multiple government agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Earlier, Elliptic experts spoke about a scheme for the supply of fentanyl from China in exchange for cryptocurrency. Chinese suppliers of the synthetic opioid are keeping more than $32 million in their wallets, according to analysts.
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