Canadian Couple Pleads Guilty In Case Involving Synthetic Drugs From China
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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BUFFALO, N.Y.-Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Karl Morrison, 59, of Kitchener, Ontario, pleaded guilty to attempting to export pentylone and furanyl fentanyl, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. Co-defendant Sorina Morrison, 60, also of Kitchener, pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony and faces three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang, who is handling the case, stated that on August 29, 2016, American law enforcement officers intercepted a package that was mailed from China and addressed to Karl Morrison at a location in Niagara Falls, NY. The package contained four sample-sized packets of powder, two of which were determined to contain 4-methoxy butyryl fentanyl and para-fluoro butyryl fentanyl. If intended for human consumption, these synthetic substances are analogues of the Schedule II controlled substance fentanyl.
On October 15, 2016, Morrison and his wife Sorina entered the United States from Canada at the Lewiston Bridge Port of Entry. The couple retrieved four packages, bought shipping supplies, and repackaged the contents into new envelopes that they paid to ship back to Canada, including one to their home address. Sorina Morrison falsely declared that the contents of one of the repackaged parcels contained cinnamon butter. Other than packaging materials, that parcel contained more than 500 grams of powder containing pentylone. Another of the repackaged parcels contained approximately 6 1/2 grams of powder containing furanyl fentanyl. All three repackaged parcels were intercepted by American law enforcement officials before shipment to Canada.
The couple discarded the Chinese shipping labels of the original packages in various garbage cans around Niagara County to cover their tracks. They also obtained the name and address of an unsuspecting citizen in Niagara Falls to use as the return address on the packages they shipped to Canada, to further disguise the origin of the illegal contents. The Morrison’s were arrested as they drove back across the Lewiston Bridge toward Canada.
Several days later, law enforcement officials recovered yet another Chinese parcel that had been delivered for Karl Morrison, which contained nearly 500 grams of powder containing pentylone.
Pentylone is a synthetic cathinone that is commonly used as a designer drug for its stimulant effect and is comparable to MDMA. Furanyl fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is far more potent than heroin.
The pleas are the result of an investigation by Customs and Border protection, under the direction of Director of Field Operations Rose Brophy; the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Spero; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Shelly Binkowski.
Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for July 25, 2017, before Judge Vilardo.