The investigation on the front lines of fentanyl has now gone international, with south Florida as the epicenter.
The Justice Department recently announced the indictments of eight Chinese companies and 12 of their executives from the Middle and South Districts of Florida.
The companies and suspects are accused of shipping the precursor chemicals used to make fentanyl.
“We know who is responsible for poisoning the American people with fentanyl,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The DEA calls fentanyl the “greatest threat to Americans today.”
50 to 100 times more lethal than heroin, it’s the number one killer for American adults under the age of 45.
Garland says Mexican Drug Cartels are bringing the deadly drug into the US, largely in the form of fake pills.
But he says the fatal supply chain starts in China, which Fox 4 Investigates showed you exclusively last May.
“Chemical companies in China are shipping the chemicals to Mexico and the two cartels are primarily responsible for making this deadly poison,” Deanne Reuter, DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Field Office, told Fox 4 Investigates in May.
What wasn’t known at the time of that first story, is the DEA agents in both the Tampa and Miami offices had already infiltrated some of the Chinese companies, according to the indictments.
The DOJ says the companies often advertised on social media and other platforms.
They bragged about their abilities to get past US customs by disguising their packaging.
“In just this one case would have been enough to manufacture more than 72 kilograms of fentanyl,” Garland said. “That amount would be enough to make up to 15 million fentanyl pills. Each one could be potentially fatal.”
The DOJ says no one from the companies are in custody.
They are all still in China, according to the DOJ, which Garland says has not been cooperative in the investigation.
The Treasury Department recently announced financial sanctions on numerous companies.