CASE UPDATE: Ringleaders Found Guilty in $1.6 Million Crystal Meth Trafficking Ring
Dealers used U.S. Mail to ship and sell over 35 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in Jefferson, Clearfield, Clarion, Elk and Forest Counties
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that two ringleaders who ran an interstate crystal methamphetamine ring that shipped and sold $1.6 million in drugs in Jefferson, Clarion, Clearfield, Elk and Forest Counties have been found guilty of all charges following a jury trial. The investigation was called “Operation Snail Mail.”
In Jefferson County Common Pleas Court, Larry Dean and Daniel Hopkins were found guilty of corrupt organizations and possession with intent to deliver drugs, among other offenses. Dean and Hopkins were among 30 defendants charged in September 2017 for shipping crystal meth to Jefferson County through the U.S. mail from other drug dealers in Arizona and California and distributing it throughout North Central Pennsylvania. The 35 pounds of crystal meth they sold produced between 32,000 and 64,000 doses of the dangerous, addictive illegal drug.
“Crystal meth trafficking is a growing problem in Pennsylvania, particularly in rural parts of our state,” Attorney General Shapiro said after the verdicts were announced last night. “When drug dealers from other states targeted rural Pennsylvania, our agents and prosecutors stopped them and shut this operation down. These guilty verdicts show we’re getting dangerous drug dealers off the street and helping to keep North Central Pennsylvania safe.”
To date, 23 defendants connected with the “Operation Snail Mail” crystal meth ring have entered guilty pleas to charges of possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy and other offenses. Fellow ringleader Joseph Kot, Sr., was previously sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison.
Attorney General Shapiro credited law enforcement cooperation for taking down the ring. “I’d like to thank Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett’s office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance in breaking up this drug trafficking operation,” Attorney General Shapiro said.
Sentencing for Dean and Hopkins is scheduled for April 4. Both face potentially lengthy incarcerations, including maximum prison sentences of up to 340 years in jail each. The cases were prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Marnie Sheehan-Balchon and Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett.
Over the last year, Attorney General Shapiro’s office has:
- Arrested nearly 5 drug dealers a day on average.
- Partnered with law enforcement to destroy nearly 44 tons of drugs in 2017.
- Increased arrests for the illegal diversion of prescription drugs by 72 percent.
- Distributed 300,000 drug disposal pouches in 17 counties in Pennsylvania.
- Worked with the insurance industry to expand access to drug treatment.
- Helping to lead a national investigation by 41 Attorneys General of the pharmaceutical industry for their role in fueling the opioid crisis in the country.
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