PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Federal authorities announced the takedown of a major international drug trafficking ring. Officials believe the trafficked drugs are responsible for at least five deaths. A press conference was held at the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Center City.
The announcement accused three Chinese men — identified as Deyao Chen, Guichun Chen, and Liangtu Pan — of selling illegal opioids off a website based in China and making thousands of shipments to former Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy David Landis over the past year.
Landis worked as a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy until 2014. Then from 2016 to 2017, Landis had another job with an illegal international focus that federal investigators say was working for three Chinese nationalists who operated the elaborate drug delivery website.
Authorities say the suspects often used the same “Alex” alias when using the website.
— Matt Petrillo (@MattPetrillo) October 1, 2019
Authorities say that deputy distributed nearly 3,000 packages of the drugs across the United States and Canada, as well as Chile, Senegal and Spain.
U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain believes some of those opioid shipments resulted in the overdose deaths of at least five people, which is what prompted his office to trace exactly where the drug originated.
“The amount of fentanyl that can kill you can fit on the top of a pin,” U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said.
The former Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty to the alleged crimes in 2018 and is currently serving time.
“David Landis’ base of trafficking operations may have been Montgomery County, but his reach was global, spreading poison, misery and death far and wide. Because of traffickers like Landis, people are dying across the Commonwealth and across the country,” said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. “I am proud to partner with United States Attorney McSwain and our other state and federal partners as we work to take down these dealers, shut down these drug pipelines and get this poison out of our communities.”
Authorities say the three Chinese men who created the website and distributed the drugs are still in China and are not expected to be prosecuted in the United States.
While authorities say they did shut down the drug operation, they are worried about other online drug delivery services.