An award of up to $5 million is being offered by the U.S. State Department for information on a Chinese fentanyl trafficker.
Zhang Jian, 42, a key leader of a transnational criminal organization that manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogues from at least four known labs in China, advertised illicit drugs on the Internet to customers in the United States and Canada, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The drugs are alleged to have caused the overdose deaths of four individuals in North Carolina, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon in 2014 and 2015, according to a 2017 federal indictment (pdf). During the two years, five individuals in North Carolina and Oregon sustained serious bodily injuries.
Zhang’s organization began to operate in about January 2013, prosecutors said. Since that time, it allegedly sent thousands of orders of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and other illicit drugs, as well as pill presses, stamps, or dies used to shape drugs into pills. These items were shipped out through the mail or international parcel delivery services.
Zhang, also known as “Hong Kong Zaron,” was indicted with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other related counts in 2017. He faced additional charges including international money laundering conspiracy in a 2018 superseding indictment (pdf).
In April 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department froze Zhang’s U.S. assets and sanctioned his biotechnology company Zaron Bio-Tech (Asia) Limited. The company, which was registered in Hong Kong but operated in China, was allegedly used by Zhang to “facilitate the unlawful importation of fentanyl and other controlled substances into the United States.”
The $5-million bounty, offered by the State Department’s Transnational Organized Crimes Rewards Program, seeks information that will lead to Zhang’s location, arrest, or conviction, said State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement released on Aug. 30. To date, the State Department has paid more than $135 million in rewards.
“We hope that this reward will encourage those with valuable information to contact DEA to bring Mr. Zhang to justice,” said La Verne Hibbert, acting special agent in charge at DEA Miami Field Division, according to a statement.
“This is an example of the commitment DEA has to working w/ LE partners to dismantle drug trafficking orgs & keeping communities safe. This reward will encourage those w/ info to contact #DEA to bring Zhang to justice,” said Acting Chief Hibbert @StateDept https://t.co/i1AYCBUwvF pic.twitter.com/pSK6gbPJXp— DEAMiami (@DEAMIAMIDiv) August 30, 2021
Zhang’s case underscores America’s drug epidemic. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 93,331 American residents died from a drug overdose in 2020, with 69,170 of them involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl.
By Frank Fang