Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Guilty Plea Of Defendant Who Conspired To Import 100 Kilograms Of North Korean Methamphetamine Into The United States
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of SCOTT STAMMERS, a citizen of the United Kingdom, to conspiring to import 100 kilograms of North Korean-produced methamphetamine into the United States. STAMMERS was arrested in September 2013, along with co-defendants Philip Shackels, Ye Tiong Tan Lim, Kelly Allan Reyes Peralta, and Adrian Valkovic, following a long-term investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). STAMMERS pled guilty before Magistrate Judge James L. Cott.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Scott Stammers conspired to import into the United States 100 kilograms of dangerously pure North Korean methamphetamine. Thanks to the work of the DEA and the cooperation of law enforcement partners around the world, including in Thailand, Liberia and Romania, Stammers’s scheme ended, not with the North Korean methamphetamine flooding American streets as he had intended, but rather with a guilty plea in a Manhattan federal court.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, the plea agreement for STAMMERS, and statements made in court proceedings:
In 2012, Tan Lim and Peralta, members of a criminal organization operating in Hong Kong and the Philippines, sold more than 30 kilograms of methamphetamine that had been produced in North Korea. STAMMERS and Shackels were responsible for storing the methamphetamine after it had been sold by Tan Lim and Peralta. This North Korean methamphetamine was later seized by law enforcement agents in Thailand and in the Philippines and tested at more than 99% pure.
In 2013, Tan Lim and Peralta again agreed to provide North Korean methamphetamine, this time agreeing to supply 100 kilograms of the methamphetamine to confidential sources working at the direction of the DEA (the “CSes”) for importation to the United States. As Tan Lim explained, his criminal organization was the only one currently able to obtain methamphetamine from North Korea: “Because before, there were eight [other criminal organizations]. But now only us, we have the NK [i.e., North Korea] product. . . . [I]t’s only us who can get from NK.” Tan Lim further explained that, because of recent international tensions, the North Korean government had destroyed some methamphetamine labs, leaving behind only the labs of Tan Lim’s organization: “And all the, the NK government already burned all the labs. Only our labs are not closed. . . . To show Americans that they [the North Korean government] are not selling it any more, they burned it. Then they transfer to another base.” In anticipation of these geo-political complications, Tan Lim noted that his organization had stockpiled one ton of North Korean methamphetamine in the Philippines for storage.
As a prelude to the 100-kilogram methamphetamine deal, Tan Lim and Peralta arranged to have a sample of the drug delivered to Shackels, who sent that sample (along with a second sample from another supplier) to an address from which the methamphetamine samples would be sent to the United States. These two methamphetamine samples tested at more than 98% and 96% pure.
Tan Lim and Peralta agreed to deliver the 100 kilograms of North Korean methamphetamine in Thailand, from where they understood it would be shipped to the United States by boat. In preparation, Tan Lim and Peralta arranged for a “dry run,” sending a shipping container of tea leaves from the Philippines to Thailand in order to test delivery channels that would later be used for the shipment of methamphetamine.
STAMMERS, Valkovic, and Shackels agreed to provide security, transportation, and storage for the 100 kilograms of methamphetamine once it arrived in Thailand. Valkovic, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club (“OMC”) in Thailand, was to be the “ground commander,” and would supervise an armed crew of OMC members that would provide security for the methamphetamine. STAMMERS and Shackels were to arrange for the 100 kilograms to be taken to a warehouse, counted, re-packaged, and delivered to a marina in Thailand, to be transferred to a boat that would deliver the methamphetamine to the United States.
In September 2013, Tan Lim and Peralta traveled to Thailand in order to receive payment for the 100 kilogram methamphetamine deal. STAMMERS, Tan Lim, Peralta, Valkovic, and Shackels were arrested by Thai law enforcement on September 25, 2013.
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As a result of his guilty plea, STAMMERS, 46, faces a maximum possible term of life in prison and a mandatory term of 10 years in prison. The minimum and maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentence will be determined by the judge. A sentencing date for STAMMERS has not been scheduled.
Valkovic pled guilty on August 5, 2015, before Judge Carter to conspiring to import 100 kilograms of methamphetamine into the United States. Peralta pled guilty on August 18, 2015, and Tan Lim pled guilty on August 19, 2015, to the same charge before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.
The remaining defendant, Shackels, 32, is charged with conspiracy to import methamphetamine into the United States. His trial is scheduled to commence before Judge Carter on September 21, 2015.
The guilty plea was the result of the close cooperative efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; DEA’s Special Operations Division, Bilateral Investigations Unit; and DEA’s Bangkok, Manila, Ghana, Pretoria, Bucharest, Nassau, and Copenhagen Country Offices. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Thai Police Narcotics Suppression Bureau and Crime Suppression Division; the Royal Thai Immigration; the Royal Thai Attorney General’s Office; the Republic of Liberia’s National Security Agency; the Republic of Liberia’s Attorney General’s Office; the Romanian National Police; Interpol; and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs for their support and assistance.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Anna Skotko, Michael D. Lockard, and Emil Bove are in charge of the prosecution.
The allegations against Shackels in the Indictment are merely accusations and that defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.