Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Guilty Pleas Of Three Defendants Who Conspired To Import 100 Kilgrams 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 pleas of YE TIONG TAN LIM, a citizen of Taiwan, ALLAN KELLY REYES PERALTA, a citizen of the Philippines, and ADRIAN VALKOVIC, a citizen of the Czech Republic, to conspiring to import 100 kilograms of North Korean-produced methamphetamine into the United States. TAN LIM, PERALTA, and VALKOVIC were arrested in September 2013, along with co-defendants Scott Stammers and Philip Shackels, following a long-term investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). VALKOVIC pled guilty on August 5, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Andrew L. Carter. PERALTA pled guilty on August 18, 2015, and TAN LIM pled guilty August 19, 2015, both before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Ye Tiong Tan Lim, Kelly Reyes Peralta, and Adrian Valkovic’s conspiracy reads much like the script of an action movie - outlaw biker gangs providing protection and logistics for a U.S.-bound load of North Korean methamphetamine. But the plan was all too real, and the target for the drugs they planned to import were the streets of the United States. Thanks to the expert work of the DEA and prosecutors in my office, the conspiracy was thwarted and the drug traffickers’ mission made impossible.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, the plea agreements for TAN LIM, PERALTA, and VALKOVIC, 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.
VALKOVIC, Stammers, 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. TAN LIM, PERALTA, VALKOVIC, Stammers, and Shackels were arrested by Thai law enforcement on September 25, 2013.
* * *
As a result of their guilty pleas, TAN LIM, 55, PERALTA, 43, and VALKOVIC, 45, each face 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 sentencing of these defendants will be determined by the judge. VALKOVIC is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Carter on November 6, 2015. Sentencing dates have not yet been scheduled for TAN LIM and PERALTA.
The remaining defendants, Stammers, 46, and Shackels, 32, are charged with conspiracy to import methamphetamine into the United States. Trial is scheduled to commence before Judge Carter on September 21, 2015.
The guilty pleas were 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 charges against Stammers and Shackels are merely accusations and these defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.