A Chinese court jailed nine people on Thursday (November 7) on charges of smuggling the highly addictive opioid fentanyl into the United States, in the first such case that Washington and Beijing have worked on together.
What started with a tip-off to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2017 ultimately led Chinese investigators to a warehouse where they say the fentanyl was being produced.
The smuggling ring was moving fentanyl and other opioids to the U.S. via a courier, an official said.
One of the convicted members was given a suspended death sentence - which in practice is normally commuted to a life in jail - and two got life sentences.
Yu Haibin, a senior official with China's National Narcotics Control Commission, said there are two other joint fentanyl cases ongoing.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) YU HAIBIN, VICE-DIRECTOR OF OFFICE OF CHINA NATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL COMMISSION, SAYING: "China and the U.S. have been very practical in the past year and achieved fruitful results." Against the backdrop of two years of bruising trade war, fentanyl has been an added bone of contention.
The U.S. has criticized China for not doing enough to prevent its flow, China has said the U.S. should do more to stifle demand.
But as the two countries close in on an interim trade deal, Thursday's verdict shows they are also cooperating on the opioid crisis.
More than 28,000 synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths, mostly from fentanyl-related substances, were recorded in the United States in 2017.