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Press Release

Williamson Man Pleads Guilty in International Synthetic Drug Trafficking Ring

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y.    U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Joshua Buerman, 26, of Williamson, NY, pleaded to conspiracy to import and distribute significant quantities of Methylone, a Schedule I controlled substance, from a source of supply located in China before U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.

“This case demonstrates the global reach of a China-based synthetic drug ring, as well as the Government’s ability to infiltrate and destroy it,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.  “We will continue to utilize all of the tools available to us to ensure that dangerous substances such as these are not imported into this country.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas E. Gregory, who is handling the case, stated that since June 2012, Joshua Buerman and other members of a drug trafficking organization utilized a source of supply located in China to purchase and obtain significant quantities of Methylone, as well as several other synthetic substances. The Government obtained a court order authorizing the interception of email communications occurring over an email address belonging to the source of supply in China. During the course of the 30 day email interception period, investigators obtained substantial evidence indicating that the China based supplier was shipping an assortment of controlled substances and controlled substance analogs to numerous customers located throughout the United States and abroad, including, but not limited to Austria, Canada, Finland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Lithuania.

The interception generated more than 450 leads which were disseminated to various police agencies across the United States, resulting in the nationwide seizure of more than 70 kilograms of Methylone and numerous controlled substance analogs, all of which had been shipped from China. Investigative leads also resulted in at least 54 arrests nationwide, including Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, California and Texas. Agents also seized several kilograms of cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, more than $50,000 in cash, several motor vehicles and seven weapons, including several firearms.

In August 2013, investigators learned through the email interception that several shipments of Methylone were being shipped to members of the Rochester organization. The packages were interdicted and found to contain a total of 3.5 kilograms of methylone crystals.

Methylone is a stimulant that has a chemical structure closely related to 3,4 methyelenedioxymethamphetamine, known commonly as "MDMA" or "ecstacy." Its crystalline form is often sold generically on the streets by the street term "Molly" or “bath salts.” Methylone was the subject of an October 2011 DEA Emergency Scheduling Order and was permanently placed into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in April 2013.

Buerman was arrested along with eight others in the Rochester area in September 2013. To date, five defendants have been convicted. Charges are pending against the remaining defendants. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Acting 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, the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge, Boston Division, the United States Border Patrol, under the direction of Patrol Agent in Charge Chris Buskey, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Scott Crosier.
Updated November 19, 2014