The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) increased the number of indicted individuals alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to traffic large quantities of fentanyl into the U.S. from 22 to 32. Six U.S. residents are included on the new list as are Na Chu, Yeyou Chu, Cuiying Liu, and Keping Zhang, four Chinese nationals charged with international money laundering conspiracy. These charges stem from the information gathered during Operation Denial. It was the January 3, 2015 overdose death of 18-year-old Bailey Henke in Grand Forks, North Dakota that started the whole investigation.
An additional defendant previously charged in the superseding indictment was Jian Zhang, a man that the DOJ identified as “the organizer and leader of this criminal conspiracy in China…” who illegally shipped fentanyl, fentanyl analogues and precursor chemicals into the U.S. That indictment also indicates that Jason Joey Berry and Daniel Desnoyers were “the organizers and leaders in this criminal conspiracy in Canada and did so while incarcerated in the Drummond Institution, a medium security prison facility located in Quebec, Canada.” Of the 22 original defendants, ten have already pleaded guilty, one person has already been found guilty and is awaiting sentencing, and another is awaiting trial.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Fentanyl and its analogues killed more Americans than any other drug in 2016, and the vast majority of it comes from China. The defendants in this case allegedly trafficked fentanyl from China to 11 states from coast to coast. As a result, Americans died in at least three states.” He further added that “Today’s indictments are a step toward dismantling an alleged international fentanyl trafficking operation and eventually ending this nation’s unprecedented drug crisis.”
These indictments were only possible because of the combined efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies including by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force, Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau – Drugs and Vice Division, Portland HIDTA Interdiction Task Force, Oregon State Police, and the Grand Forks Police Department. U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Kerin for the District of Oregon and Trial Attorney Adrienne Rose of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic & Dangerous Drug Section are prosecuting the cases.