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November 13, 2019

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Duo jailed for illegal laughing gas sales

Two men who earned more than 23 million yuan (US$3.3 million) from illegally selling laughing gas online have been sentenced to multiple years in jail, prosecutors in Qingpu District said yesterday.

It was the first such case in the city and the amount of money involved was the largest among similar cases nationwide, according to prosecutors.

Inhaling laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, can slow down the body’s reaction time and produce a euphoric feeling. It is used for medical purposes, such as treating pain. However, it also has side effects and health risks and is addictive.

The gas can also be used to make whip cream, and the illegal products involved in this case were disguised as food additives, prosecutors said.

According to the Qingpu District People’s Procuratorate, a man, Zhuang, registered a company in 2015 and sold baking supplies online. Later he noticed that some customers repeatedly bought nitrous oxide products. When Zhuang asked the customers why they needed so much gas, he learned they were using it as an intoxicant.

Starting in 2016, Zhuang purchased a large amount of nitrous oxide from his suppliers and then sold the gas via WeChat and his online store.

Zhuang sold the laughing gas to other agents, including a man named Zhang, and opened warehouses in many cities.

The operation came to light when Qingpu police nabbed a laughing gas abuser in a hotel and then traced the gas to Zhuang’s warehouse and workshop. Zhuang and Zhang were charged with illegal business operations in June this year.

Zhuang was jailed for nine years, with a fine of 2.5 million yuan while Zhang got five and a half years and a 400,000 yuan fine.


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