The Chinese court has sentenced to death Wang Fengxi the Chinese man who led an illicit network of labs that produced and shipped packages of fentanyl to American users who were able to place orders online through a dealer simply known as “Diana,” according to the Chinese and American officials.
A judge here in Xingtai, a city in Hebei Province sentenced Mr. Wang to death after detailing a broad conspiracy to manufacture and smuggle fentanyl that evaded China’s strict controls on pharmaceutical production.
The case, involving nine defendants in all, was a rare example of cooperation against a surge in fentanyl-related deaths that American officials, including President Trump, have blamed directly on China’s lax enforcement and even complicity in fueling a drug epidemic on American streets.
But Mr. Wang’s death sentence was suspended for two years, leaving open the possibility that it could later be commuted to life in prison. Eight other co-defendants were also sentenced on Thursday, including distributors and online sellers. They received sentences ranging from six months in prison to life.
The case started with an arrest by the Drug Enforcement Administration in New Orleans in August 2017, leading to an international investigation into a sprawling underground production network that prosecutors said Mr. Wang orchestrated.
“The successful outcome of this case, especially the heavy sentences to the main criminals and others, fully demonstrates the position and determination of the Chinese government to severely punish fentanyl-related crimes,” Yu Haibin, the deputy director of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission said.