US files first-ever charges against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers

The US Justice Department on Friday filed criminal charges against Chinese chemical manufacturing companies and individuals over allegations they illegally trafficked the chemicals used to make fentanyl - a highly addictive painkiller that has fueled the opioid crisis in America.

The indictments mark the first time the United States has sought to prosecute any of the Chinese companies responsible for manufacturing the precursor chemicals used to make the painkiller.

In Manhattan's Southern District, federal prosecutors announced the unsealing of an indictment against the China-based chemical company Hubei Amarvel Biotech, along with its executives Qingzhou Wang, 35, Yiyi Chen, 31, and Fnu Lnu, also known as Er Yang, with fentanyl trafficking, precursor chemical importation, and money laundering offenses.

Wang and Chen were arrested by the federal agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration on June 8 and ordered detained by a federal magistrate judge in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 9 until they can be transported to New York City to appear before the judge handling the case.

Yang remains at large.

In the Eastern District of New York, meanwhile, prosecutors announced the unsealing of two more indictments against Chinese companies and individuals, accusing them of conspiring to manufacture and distribute fentanyl in the United States.