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Press Release

Felon Charged with Illegally Possessing Fentanyl Analogue and .40 Caliber Pistol

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

PITTSBURGH – James Folks has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh for methoxyacetyl fentanyl trafficking and firearm crimes, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today. The indictment charges Folks, age 44, of East Pittsburgh, with committing the following crimes on December 7, 2017: attempt to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of methoxyacetyl fentanyl and possession of a firearm after seven prior felony convictions.

“As President Trump has identified, the fight against the opioid and fentanyl epidemic is one of the top priorities of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania,” stated U.S. Attorney Brady. “Seven-times convicted felon James Folks attempted to import from overseas more than two pounds of a deadly form of fentanyl for distribution in Western Pennsylvania. This multi-agency investigation resulted in an indictment which demonstrates the resolve of this office to reduce violent crime and opioid trafficking by focusing on the district’s most dangerous criminals.”

“We’re using every law enforcement tool at our disposal to fight this epidemic in Pennsylvania and get the people peddling these poisons out of our communities,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration with U.S. Attorney Scott Brady and his office, fentanyl that could have devastated this community has been seized and the drug dealer responsible will face justice.”

According to a Criminal Complaint filed on December 7, 2017, Folks has an extensive criminal record involving drug trafficking and violent crimes. On December 6, 2017, Postal Inspection Service interdiction personnel in Pittsburgh intercepted an International Mail Express package from the Republic of Korea addressed to James Folks in Homestead, PA. The package was pulled from the mail stream for further investigation. On December 6, 2017, Homeland Security personnel opened the package in a controlled environment and found a powdery substance with an approximate weight of 1,058 grams. A field test indicated the substance contained a fentanyl analogue, a controlled substance, in a distribution amount. On December 7, 2017, at 8:45 a.m., Folks went to the Post Office to retrieve his parcel and departed the Post Office in his vehicle. Law enforcement officers arrested Folks when he parked in front of his residence with the parcel. A subsequent search of Folks’ home uncovered a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber pistol with a loaded magazine, as well as drug trafficking paraphernalia, including an electronic money counter. Federal law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year to possess a firearm and ammunition. Because of his criminal record, Folks has been charged as an Armed Career Criminal.

The law provides for a minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment as an Armed Career Criminal and up to life and a fine of up to $20,250,000. 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 Craig W. Haller is prosecuting this case on behalf of the United States.

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated January 3, 2018

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses