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Press Release

Dark Web Narcotics Traffickers Sentenced to Prison for Importing and Distributing Controlled Substances from China

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Stephen Stroh, 56, of Morton, PA, and Vaughan Reiser, 21, of Landenberg, PA, have been sentenced to prison by United States District Judge C. Darnell Jones II for conspiracy to import numerous controlled substances from China using the dark web, conspiracy to distribute those substances, and related drug offenses. Stroh was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in prison, while Reiser was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.

From Spring 2017 until December 2017, the defendants conspired to import controlled substances, including furanyl fentanyl, methoxyacetyl fentanyl, U-47700, and other synthetic narcotics, from China into the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Upon receiving these deadly substances through the mail, the defendants conducted research on various dark net websites to learn how to combine the substances to manufacture counterfeit pills. Some of the pills they made were counterfeit oxycodone pills which contained fentanyl and counterfeit Adderall pills which contained methamphetamine.

The defendants also used the dark web to order machinery and related parts from China in order to press the substances into pills. The defendants then distributed these counterfeit pills to customers via the Internet and through the mail. The pills were also distributed to customers who would test and provide feedback as to the quality of the counterfeit pills. The defendants were paid in bitcoin, and used cellular telephones, computers, and self-destructing messaging applications to communicate with one another.

“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,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “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.”

“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 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.”

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, and it is being prosecuted by Senior Advisor to the U.S. Attorney Clare Putnam Pozos and Assistant United States Attorney MaryTeresa Soltis.


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Updated March 13, 2020

Drug Trafficking
Prescription Drugs