Three Plead Guilty in OCDETF Operation: Return to Sender
PITTSBURGH, PA – Three Pennsylvania men have pleaded guilty in federal court to violation of federal narcotics laws related to a nine-month Title III wiretap investigation into drug trafficking in and around the counties of Jefferson, Clearfield, and Allegheny, United States Attorney Cindy Chung announced today.
Jeffrey Peters, age 66, of Hyde, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possesses with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine before United States District Judge Christy Criswell Wiegand.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Peters was a methamphetamine distributor who obtained between 500 grams and 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine as part of a large-scale methamphetamine distribution conspiracy and redistributed it to methamphetamine users. Peters also conspired with two other individuals to retrieve parcels containing methamphetamine and marijuana that were shipped from Nevada and transported them to Derek Hillebrand, the head of the drug trafficking organization.
Terrence Dougherty, age 28, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possesses with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine before Judge Wiegand.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that intercepted communications revealed that Dougherty ordered at least 60 pounds of methamphetamine from George Charlan, a methamphetamine distributor based in Oregon. Individuals working for Charlan shipped from Nevada to Dougherty, and approximately 4.5 kilograms of methamphetamine intended for Dougherty was interdicted by federal agents. Agents seized approximately half of a pound of methamphetamine, a large amount of marijuana, a firearm, and approximately $18,840 in United States currency during a search of Dougherty’s residence.
Yusuf Adekunle, age 27, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and one count of conspiracy to distribute a quantity of marijuana before Judge Wiegand.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on Oct. 22, 2020, Adekunle and three other individuals chartered a private plane and transported six kilograms of cocaine from Houston to Pittsburgh International Airport. Investigators obtained a search warrant for the plane and seized the cocaine from two pieces of luggage. The court was further advised that the defendant obtained and distributed between 20 kilograms and 40 kilograms of marijuana between July of 2020 and August of 2021. Agents seized approximately 700 grams of marijuana and a firearm during a search of Adekunle’s residence.
Judge Wiegand scheduled sentencing for Peters on May 11, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.; for Judge Dougherty on May 3, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.; and for Adekunle on May 2, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a sentence of not less than ten years to a maximum of life in prison, a fine not to exceed $10,000,000, or both for all defendants. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense(s) and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The court ordered that Peters and Dougherty remain on bond pending sentencing. The court ordered that Adekunle remain detained pending sentencing.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan D. Lusty and Michael R. Ball are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Drug Enforcement Administration led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Homeland Security Investigations, United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Services, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Police, and Pennsylvania State Police. Also assisting were the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office, and the Clarion Borough Police Department.
This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.