PHILADELPHIA – Two men, one from Delaware County and the other from Chester County, have been sentenced in a scheme to use the darknet to import dangerous controlled substances into the United States from China.
Stephen Stroh, 56, of Morton and Vaughan Reiser of Landenberg were sentenced to 17 and a half years and six and a half years, respectively.
According to prosecutors, from the spring through December of 2017, Stroh and Reiser conspired to import furanyl fentanyl, methoxyacetyl fentanyl, U-47700, and other synthetic narcotics, from China into the United States.
After receiving the substances through the mail, they researched on darknet websites to figure out how to manufacture counterfeit pills. Some of the pills were made into fake oxycodone that contained fentanyl and Adderall that contained methamphetamine.
“Stroh and Reiser are dangerous drug traffickers, pure and simple – it makes no difference that they were using the Internet as opposed to working street corners. If anything, it makes their criminal conduct even worse, given the reach of the Internet,” William McSwain, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said. “The drugs these defendants were importing and distributing are extremely deadly, compounded by the fact that they were intentionally mislabeling them. A critical aspect of my office’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic is stopping and holding accountable international drug traffickers like these defendants, who richly deserve their significant prison sentences.”
They also used the dark web to order machinery and other parts from China to turn the materials into pills. The pills were then distributed to customs through the Internet and by mail.
Stroh and Reiser were paid in bitcoin and used cell phones, computers and self-destructing messaging apps to communicate.
“As Philadelphia continues to deal with a staggering opioid epidemic, these sentencings should serve as a reminder that trafficking in this poison will result in severe consequences,” said William S. Walker, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for Philadelphia. “Additionally, HSI Philadelphia’s Cyber Crimes Investigations Task Force and our partners remain vigilant in protecting our communities from all cyber-enabled drug trafficking.”