Two Pennsylvania men were sentenced to prison for importing controlled substances from China, manufacturing pills, and conspiring to distribute the controlled substances on the darkweb. The defendants primarily imported and resold fentanyl, furanyl fentanyl, and related opioids.
United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that a United States District Judge had sentenced Stephen Stroh, 56, and Vaughan Reiser, 21, to prison for an assortment of drug crimes. At a previous hearing, both defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methoxyacetyl fentanyl and fentanyl.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched an investigation into the defendants in late 2017 after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers intercepted a package containing almost 500 grams of fentanyl. The package originated from China and was addressed to Stroh. After identifying Stroh, Special Agents met him in a parking lot and told him about the ongoing investigation. Stroh waived his Miranda rights and agreed to cooperate with investigators.
Stroh “advised law enforcement that he has been working with [Reiser] for about 1 ~ years, receiving at least approximately 150 parcels containing illegal controlled substances and pill presses,” HSI Special Agent William Capra wrote in the criminal complaint.
Investigators eventually had enough information to execute a federal search and seizure warrant at Reiser’s house. During the search, law enforcement seized more than 70,000 counterfeit controlled substance pills and bulk quantities of fentanyl. They also seized electronic devices and ledgers with information about Reiser’s accounts on darkweb markets. Investigators later wrote that Reizer had made regular purchases from a the vendor RC Queen.
Reiser also waived his Maranda rights and agreed to cooperate with authorities. He admitted that he was a buyer and vendor on darkweb markets. He also told investigators that he had a “business partner by the name of Stephen Stroh.” He said that Stroh had helped manage the drug distribution operation since early 2017.
Reiser also advised that he and Stroh took packages containing illicit controlled substances to a unit within a warehouse in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania, where they created counterfeit pills. Stroh conducted his own research and learned how to create the pill recipes and manufacturing process, Reiser said. He explained their relationship was similar to Jesse Pinkman (Reiser) and Walter White a/k/a HEISENBERG (Stroh) from Breaking Bad.
On December 23, 2017, HSI Special Agents and PSP Troopers executed a search warrant at 100 Mill Street, Unit 23, in Clifton Heights. Law enforcement located three pill presses, two pharmaceutical mixers, approximately 450 kilograms of binding agents, approximately 50 kilograms of controlled substances including powdered fentanyl (field tested positive for the presence of fentanyl), suspected methamphetamine, suspected alprazolam, and other unidentified powders.
Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Stroh’s apartment on the same day. Stroh was in the apartment at the time. Stroh waived his Miranda rights once again and informed investigators that he had a second lab located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Stroh also signed a consent form that allowed them to search the second lab.
[Stroh] stated that they produced counterfeit Oxycodone capsules containing fentanyl, Adderall capsules containing methamphetamine, and Xanax capsules containing alprazolam. Stroh knew that the counterfeit pills contained the aforementioned controlled substances. Stroh advised that he and Reiser had produced approximately 100,000 counterfeit Oxycodone pills, 60,000 counterfeit Adderall pills, 30,000 counterfeit Xanax pills. Stroh further advised that he and Reiser sold these pills via the dark net, selling that Oxycodone pills for $3 per pill, the Adderall for $1 per pill, and the Xanax for $.50 per pill.
United States District Judge C. Darnell Jones II sentenced Stroh to 17-and-a-half years in prison and Reiser to six-and-a-half years in prison.