JACKSON, Miss. (WLOX) - A Chinese national at the center of an international drug trafficking investigation that started in South Mississippi is now officially considered a drug kingpin by the U.S. government.
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst announced Thursday that the Department of the Treasury designated Xiaobing Yan as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).
That means the government is making a coordinated effort to put financial pressure on Yan. All property owned by Yan that’s in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC). OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
“We are making the financial sector aware of tactics and typologies behind illicit schemes to smuggle the proceeds of these fatal drug sales in and out of the country, including money laundering through digital currency and foreign bank accounts,” FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco said. “Financial institutions must be on alert to red flags and other indicators of the complex schemes fentanyl traffickers are employing so that they can report and share relevant information with law enforcement and ultimately help save lives.”
When Yan was indicted back in September 2017, he became the first manufacturer and distributor of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be indicted in the history of the United States while being designated as a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT). CPOT designations are those who have “command and control” elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. And they’re considered by DEA to be some of the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world.
Yan is charged with two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances. He’s accused of shipping massive quantities of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to communities throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the internet and sent through the mail. The chemicals allegedly killed and injured people in several states.
Since June 2000, more than 2,200 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,503,470 per violation to more severe criminal penalties.
Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million.
Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.