DEA agents recently busted a suspected Chinese fentanyl dealer in Massachusetts, marking the first time U.S. law enforcement agents have arrested a Chinese national for distributing synthetic opioids since China cracked down on illicit production of the powerful drugs earlier this year.
Bin Wang, 42, allegedly shipped fentanyl, carfentanil, and other synthetic opioids from Massachusetts to buyers in Ohio. According to federal charging documents, a joint investigation by the DEA and an Ohio drug task force began last year after a spike in fatal overdoses in the state.
DEA special agent Matthew Fitzpatrick said in court documents that undercover investigators ordered synthetic opioids and other drugs from a man in China named “Gordon Jin.” That name is likely fake and a sly reference to the popular alcohol brand Gordon’s Gin.
Fitzpatrick said investigators intercepted emails between Wang and “Gordon Jin,” and linked an email address used by “Gordon Jin” to the website www.goldenrc.com, which sold large quantities of fentanyl, as well as K2, bath salts, and other designer drugs.
China banned production of the synthetic opioid carfentanil in February, a move hailed by the DEA as a potential “game-changer,” since Chinese manufacturers are suspected of supplying much of the fentanyl, carfentanil, and other similar drugs that have fueled a surge in fatal opioid overdoses in the U.S. over the last two years.
“Increasingly, the opioids that are killing our friends and neighbors are being sent here from China,” said David Sierleja, the acting U.S. Attorney in northern Ohio. “Shutting down this pipeline will help in our efforts to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic. We will focus on prevention, education, and aggressive law enforcement, both here and around the world.”
The feds ultimately learned that “Gordon Jin” was sending packages of drugs via FedEx to Wang at a warehouse in Woburn, Massachusetts. Wang would then allegedly send the packages on to various locations in northeast Ohio.
Property and business records reviewed by VICE News indicate that Wang ran chemical wholesale companies and labs out of that same warehouse in Woburn, Massachusetts. Those businesses include Wonda Science, a chemical wholesaler headquartered in China’s Jiangsu province.
During the Wang investigation, the feds reportedly discovered several Chinese websites that sold synthetic opioids to buyers in the U.S., including one that was directly linked to two overdose deaths in Summit County, Ohio, in 2015.
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50, and northern Ohio has been hit especially hard by the opioid epidemic.
“We’ve seen a lot of fentanyl and analogues from China,” Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in northern Ohio, told VICE News. “It’s the first time we’ve been able to get to someone distributing on a wholesale level.”