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Press Release

Former Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Sentenced to 15 Years for Conspiring to Import and Distribute Deadly Opioids Nationwide

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

PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that David Landis, 44, of Norristown, PA, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a special assessment of $6,300 by United States District Court Judge Gerald J. Pappert for numerous charges related to his participation in a global drug-trafficking conspiracy.

In October 2018, Landis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute those controlled substances, possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute, maintaining a drug-involved premises, distributing controlled substances which resulted in serious bodily injury, and 58 counts of distributing controlled substances. Of the distribution counts, one count involved the distribution of U-47700 to an individual which resulted in serious bodily injury. The remaining distribution counts relate to the defendant’s distribution of U-47700, furanyl fentanyl, and/or methoxyacetyl fentanyl to numerous individuals, some of whom received these illegal substances and later overdosed and died with the same kind of controlled substances in their systems that Landis sent to them.

The charges arose from an investigation into an international drug distribution operation, in which the defendant played a central role. From early 2016 until about March 2017, Landis conspired and agreed to distribute thousands of packages of narcotics with multiple co-conspirators in China. These co-conspirators – Deyao Chen, Guichun Chen, and Liangtu Pan, all using the alias “Alex” on the Internet – offered controlled substances for sale, including furanyl fentanyl, U-47700, and methoxyacetyl fentanyl. Customers accessed these websites and selected the controlled substances they wanted to purchase, and the co-conspirators directed the customers to different websites to pay for their orders.

Upon receipt of payment from the customers, the co-conspirators in China emailed the customers’ orders to Landis, who was a distributor residing in Montgomery County, PA and a former Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff. The co-conspirators mailed controlled substances from China to Landis in quantities sufficient to meet the orders from their Internet customers.  Landis would then mail the controlled substances via the United States Postal Service to customers located throughout the United States and in numerous other countries. In less than a year, Landis mailed approximately 2,900 packages of controlled substances to customers on behalf of the drug-trafficking operation.  

Defendants Deyao Chen, Guichun Chen, and Liangtu Pan have been charged separately and are currently believed to be at-large in China.

“This investigation uncovered illegal drug manufacturers in China who were flooding the United States with poison in the form of deadly opioids,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “The fact that this defendant – a former law enforcement officer – would help them do so is a travesty. Landis sent deadly drugs across this country and abroad, with no regard for the health or safety of others. The community will be a safer place with him behind bars for the foreseeable future.”

“David Landis was formerly in a position of public trust and turned to distributing deadly drugs throughout Montgomery county and beyond, which in some cases resulted in an overdose. Today’s sentencing sends a message to those narcotics traffickers who act with little regard for law or human life, that Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners will ensure that you are held accountable for your criminal acts,” said Brian A. Michael, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations, Philadelphia. 

This Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) designated case was supported by the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (LMAHIDTA) and investigated by Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania State Police, with assistance from the following law enforcement agencies: Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; United States Postal Service-Office of Inspector General; United States Secret Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Pennsylvania National Guard; Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Department, Ohio; La Vergne, Tennessee Police Department; Floyd County, Georgia Police Department; Hebron, Ohio Police Department; and the Tri-County, Illinois Drug Enforcement Task Force. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Clare Putnam Pozos.


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Updated November 2, 2021

Drug Trafficking