The Department of Justice has announced a significant breakthrough in the nation’s battle against the fentanyl epidemic with charges against Chinese chemical companies accused of manufacturing fentanyl, as well as the arrests of key executives from those companies.
On Friday, the DOJ announced the charges and arrests had stemmed from investigations into fentanyl production, distribution, and sales resulting from precursor chemicals. One of the companies at the center of the investigation, Amarvel Biotech, has been connected to fentanyl manufacturing and drug flow into the United States through Mexico.
According to the allegations contained in the indictment and other court filings, Amarvel Biotech is a chemical manufacturer based in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei province, China, that has exported vast quantities of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture fentanyl and its analogues.
Amarvel Biotech has openly advertised online its shipment of fentanyl precursor chemicals to the United States and to Mexico, where drug cartels operate clandestine laboratories, synthesize finished fentanyl at scale, and distribute the deadly fentanyl into and throughout the United States. Through its website and a host of other storefront sites, Amarvel Biotech has targeted precursor chemical customers in Mexico, including by advertising fentanyl precursors as a “Mexico hot sale;” guaranteeing “100% stealth shipping” abroad; and posting to its websites documentation of Amarvel Biotech shipping chemicals to Culiacan, Mexico, the home city of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the dominant drug trafficking organizations in the Western Hemisphere and which is largely responsible for the massive influx of fentanyl into the United States in recent years.
According to the DOJ, the company was purposefully attempting to thwart American law enforcement.
Amarvel Biotech has also endeavored to thwart law enforcement interdiction of its precursor chemical shipments. Amarvel Biotech has advertised, for example, the company’s ability to use deceptive packaging – such as packaging indicating the contents are dog food, nuts, or motor oil – to ensure “safe” delivery to the United States and Mexico.
Over the past eight months, during an undercover investigation by the DEA, Amarvel Biotech and its principal executive, Wang, its marketing manager, Chen, and its sales representative, Yang, shipped more than 200 kilograms from China to the United States of precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl and its analogues. Amarvel Biotech, Wang, Chen, and Yang shipped the precursors to the United States intending that the chemicals would be used to produce fentanyl and its analogues in New York, and they agreed to continue supplying multi-ton shipments of fentanyl precursors despite being told that Americans had died after consuming fentanyl made from the chemicals that the defendants had sold.
The Biden Admin Getting Serious About Fentanyl
The Biden Administration has thus far been hesitant to show progress on combatting fentanyl, as it requires a multi-pronged approach to stopping the flow of drugs into the country.
One of those prongs has to be China, which was central to the focus on fighting fentanyl during the previous administration. Even then, however, it’s been noted that the past several administrations have not taken proper care in fighting the looming threat. Biden, however, has been notably absent from the fight, choosing not to stand up to Mexico and the drug cartels that run the country nor China and the chemical companies that have produced the precursor compounds needed to make it.
However, the DOJ’s sudden interest in those Chinese companies indicates that they are willing to at least appear to fight on that front – though that could also be part of a larger attempt to appear tough on China, something the administration has failed to do up until now.
China’s foreign ministry on Saturday urged the U.S. to stop using what it said were fentanyl-related pretexts to sanction and prosecute Chinese companies and citizens, and demanded the immediate release of those who were “illegally arrested”.