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Ohio couple who lost son to fentanyl is surprised Chinese citizens may be to blame

Posted: 6:54 PM, Aug 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-24 13:01:31Z

AKRON, Ohio — James and Valorie Rauh have strong feelings about the opioid epidemic, which has dramatically impacted their lives.

"This is an act of an unleashing of a weapon of mass destruction as far as I'm concerned," James Rauh said. "I think this is an act of aggression that's decimating a generation of our population."

The Akron couple lost their son, 37-year-old Thomas Rauh, to an overdose three years ago. They described him as a kind man and a talented musician.

"Tom was a warrior for downtrodden people who were having trouble," Valorie Rauh said.

But Tom Rauh struggled with his own addiction trouble. He was in and out of treatment for heroin for several years.

In 2015, Rauh was found dead inside his apartment from an injection of powerfully manufactured fentanyl.

"From what I was told, he wasn't even able to complete his injection, and he lost consciousness and died on the spot," James Rauh said.

The man who sold Tom Rauh the deadly drug, 38-year-old Leroy Steele, is now serving 20 years in federal prison.

Thinking the case was over, the Rauhs were taken aback yesterday when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions revealed it was actually moving forward and going international.

During a visit to Cleveland, Sessions announced the unsealing of a 43-count indictment, which charges two Chinese citizens with operating a conspiracy that manufactured and shipped deadly fentanyl analogs and 250 other drugs to at least 25 countries and 37 states.

The indictment alleges that the drugs sold by the group directly led to separate fatal overdoses of Thomas Rauh and Carrie Dobbins in Akron.

Fujing Zheng and his father Guanghua Zheng are facing multiple federal charges that could land them in prison for life if convicted.

"I was surprised and so pleased that they had the compassion and the heart to follow the trail of evidence to these people and try to do something," James Rauh said.

The couple said evidence from their son's cell phone, along with DNA, helped break the case open.

While their pain will never go away, the clues that helped lead to the federal indictment provide comfort to the Rauh's as they remember a son who often tried to help others.

"To see this come to fruition after he passed away, that's very typical that would be happening for our son," Valorie Rauh said.

Federal prosecutors said they will try to work with the Chinese government to bring the suspects to the U.S. for trial.