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Press Release

Erie Resident Who Led Large-Scale Drug Trafficking Organization Pleads Guilty to Narcotics, Firearms, and Money Laundering Charges

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

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal narcotics, firearms, and money laundering laws, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

John Christopher Bisbee, 44, pleaded guilty before Senior United States District Judge Kim R. Gibson to Counts Two, Three, Thirteen, and Fourteen of the Superseding Indictment.

In connection with the guilty plea, the Court was advised that, from in and around July 2019 to in and around June 2020, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Bisbee conspired with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Bisbee, who led and directed the drug trafficking organization’s activity in Erie and surrounding areas, including New York, was intercepted on a federal wiretap obtaining kilogram quantities of methamphetamine that he distributed to others. Through a source of supply in Atlanta, Bisbee imported dozens of kilograms of methamphetamine at a time, packaged it for final distribution, and provided it to a network of distributors below him to distribute and collect proceeds from the drugs.

During the execution of a search warrant at Bisbee’s residence in June 2020, law enforcement agents seized two handguns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition. Under federal law, Bisbee is prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition based on previous felony convictions for drug trafficking. In this case, Bisbee also pleaded guilty to possessing these firearms in furtherance of the instant federal drug trafficking crime.

Bisbee additionally acknowledged that, from in and around July 2019 to in and around June 2020, he conspired with others to commit money laundering by using drug proceeds to purchase real estate with cash.

Judge Gibson scheduled sentencing for October 22, 2024. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than 15 years and up to life in prison, a fine of up to $10 million, or both. Under the federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Maureen Sheehan-Balchon is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Bisbee. Additional agencies participating in this investigation included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation, United States Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office, Erie County District Attorney’s Office, Millcreek Police Department, Erie Bureau of Police, and other local law enforcement agencies.

This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Updated June 21, 2024

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses