Chinese drug dealers convicted after first China, US joint probe

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President Donald Trump has in the past blamed the Chinese for thousands of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the US.

Two drug dealers were given suspended death sentences and several others jailed for smuggling the opioid Fentanyl to the US, a set of convictions that followed the first joint probe by Chinese and American law enforcement agencies.

The 2flow of fentanyl, a prescription opioid considered several notches stronger than heroin, from China to the US has been a point of discord between Beijing and Washington.

President Donald Trump has in the past blamed the Chinese for thousands of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the US.

On Thursday, a court in the city of Xingtai in northern Hebei province announced the verdict, adding that it was the first time that China and the US had worked jointly on such a case.

The highly publicised sentencing of the suspects on Thursday was followed by a joint press conference by Chinese and US officials in Xingtai.

“Two principal criminals, Liu Yong and Jiang Juhua, were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and life imprisonment, respectively, for the crime of selling and producing drugs, according to the Intermediate People’s Court of Xingtai,” the official news agency, Xinhua said in a report on Thursday.

“Chinese and US law enforcement agencies exchanged information frequently, and China successfully traced down the group thanks to the US tip-offs. After three months’ hard work and tens of thousands miles of travel, China finally arrested more than 20 suspects and confiscated 11.9 kilograms of fentanyl, 19.1 kilograms of alprazolam and other drugs,” the tabloid Global Times said in its report Thursday.

“The US notified China when they got the information, which propelled China to take swift action, and China also provided information of suspicious parcels to the US so they checked those parcels at the customs,” the GT report added.

According to the US’s Centres for Disease Control, fentanyl overdose had killed more than 28000 people in the US.

In December 2018, Beijing said it would reclassify fentanyl as a “controlled substance” following a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Chinese foreign ministry had then announced that Beijing had “decided to schedule the entire category of fentanyl-type substances as controlled substances, and start the process of revising relevant laws and regulations”.