News - Crypto wallets of Chinese drug traffickers blocked

By Luc Vesters

Crypto wallets of Chinese drug traffickers blocked

The US Treasury Department has filed charges against several Chinese individuals and companies for allegedly smuggling substances making fentanyl into the US. The chemicals were exported from China to Mexico, processed into narcotics there and then transported to the US. The networks were likely financed largely with cryptocurrencies. Several wallets were blocked. US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo spoke of an "important action in the fight against the global illegal drug trade."

Crypto wallets blocked by drug traffickers

A total of one ton of so-called precursor substances, from which the drug fentanyl, among others, is produced, were seized. Most of the substances were allegedly shipped to Mexico by Chinese chemical companies and then brought to the U.S. market by drug cartels. The chemicals were sent through the mail and tracked. The companies allegedly openly advertised the substances on the Internet and used fake postage to conceal them.

The network also apparently funded itself with cryptocurrencies. According to Adeyemo, "more than a dozen virtual wallets have been identified and blocked" into which "hundreds of deposits for millions of dollars have flowed." The companies "typically used cryptocurrencies transactions" "to hide their identities and the location and movement of their funds."

The US Treasury Department is charging eight Chinese chemical companies and their employees with crimes related to the production of fentanyl and methamphetamine, the distribution of synthetic opioids and the sale of chemical precursors. A total of 28 individuals and institutions are named in the indictment.

Fentanyl crisis in the U.S.

"We know that the global supply chain of fentanyl that ends in the deaths of Americans often begins with chemical companies in China," said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. Resources would be pooled to "destroy every link in this chain." U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg added that they "will continue to bring cases against Chinese chemical companies that knowingly produce and export fentanyl precursors."

With the highly addictive substance fentanyl, the U.S. is experiencing the worst drug crisis in history. Fentanyl is the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 49. From February 2022 to January, more than 100,000 people died of overdoses, most from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. The drugs are often diluted with other substances such as xylazine. A dose of as little as two milligrams can kill an adult.

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