How Flashpoint’s Intelligence Empowered the Unraveling of an Illegal Fentanyl Network

This case study explores how Flashpoint’s threat intelligence and advanced OSINT capabilities have empowered government and public sector agencies to unravel the sophisticated networks behind the sales of fentanyl precursors (chemicals used to manufacture the synthetic opioid) on digital platforms.


In the complex global security challenge posed by the trafficking of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the importance of open-source intelligence (OSINT) in public safety missions cannot be overstated. Flashpoint National Security Solutions (FNSS) stands at the forefront of addressing these challenges by providing tailored intelligence that empowers government and public sector entities to conduct effective investigations.

By dissecting the digital footprint of the fentanyl precursor trade, Flashpoint provides the critical tools and intelligence needed for public safety and national security teams to anticipate, mitigate, and disrupt these illicit activities effectively.


The trafficking of synthetic opioids has reached alarming levels, with threat actors employing increasingly sophisticated methods to evade detection. In particular, the sale of fentanyl precursors—often advertised openly yet obscured through scientific nomenclature and digital platforms—poses significant hurdles for law enforcement and public safety agencies. To effectively understand, counteract, and dismantle these illicit networks, adopting an innovative investigative strategy—integrating both proprietary technology and open-source intelligence—is crucial.

How Flashpoint's intelligence empowered the unraveling of an illegal Fentanyl network


In response to the growing threat, Flashpoint analysts embarked on an investigation targeting the sale of fentanyl precursors, particularly those originating from Chinese chemical manufacturing companies. Utilizing a multi-faceted approach, the team leveraged:

  • The Flashpoint intelligence platform for insights into synthetic opioid trafficking trends on the Deep and Dark Web (DDW) and social media
  • Optical character recognition (OCR) to sift through digital images for hidden clues
  • Open-source intelligence for additional context on trafficked substances
  • Advanced data mining techniques to sift through vast datasets, including social media chatter, market advertisements, and digital communications
  • Echosec, a component of Flashpoint’s Physical Security Intelligence suite, to expand the investigation into a broader array of social media platforms
  • Corporate data sources to investigate the ownership and operational structures of companies involved in the precursor trade


The investigation unveiled a complex web of Chinese chemical companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl precursors. Despite China’s regulatory efforts, these entities have found ways to cater to the U.S. market, often using mislabeling tactics and intermediaries to skirt US laws. Flashpoint’s analysis revealed:

  • Indictments against several companies and individuals for their role in the fentanyl precursor trade
  • Advertisement strategies employed by these companies on various digital platforms, including social media and dedicated websites
  • The use of advanced money-laundering techniques and encrypted communication platforms like WeChat to facilitate operations

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