Law enforcement has arrested two young men in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania after they were accused of using the dark web to import deadly drugs.
According to reports, the two suspects were said to have imported fentanyl and carfentanil from China all the way to Montgomery County.
The two men were identified as 26-year-old Jamil Chapman and his nephew, 23-year-old Nasai Chapman.
Suspects Dealing in Fentanyl & Carfentanil
According to a press release from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the Chapman duo’s drug-dealing operation first came to the attention of police in June 2017 when officers were responding to a distress call at a residential neighborhood in Lower Merion Township.
There was a case of a heroin overdose, as reported, where a man found to be Jamil Chapman was lying on the ground unconscious.
The police worked promptly to administer multiple doses of Narcan, an antidote which works to suppress the drug’s effect on the body, thus reversing the overdose.
After Jamil recovered, the police immediately started a search in the building to ascertain if there were any drugs left in the area.
At this time, police seized approximately 20 grams of heroin which they suspected was meant for sale.
After further investigation, the officials overseeing the case came to a common understanding that the two suspects were not drug addicts but instead indirectly affected by the deadly drugs they had been handling on a regular basis.
The detectives also came to understand that the area in which Jamil Chapman was found lying unconscious was used to package the fentanyl and carfentanil supply.
This was a move to stay anonymous from their real residential homes and therefore avoid being arrested.
After three months of intensive investigation in the case, the law enforcement officers returned to the apartment building in September 2017.
They were able to find around 75 bags of fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl (an analog of fentanyl), all of which were labeled “Pluto.”
It was also during this search that law enforcement was able to find several receipts for money orders.
Investigators say the two suspects used money orders and money transfers in their transactions to keep themselves clean from the illegal business.
The officers also found a laptop, which they confiscated for further investigations. On a finer look at the laptop, they found conversations between Jamil Chapman and Nasai Chapman, his nephew.
The intercepted conversation was in regards to a package that would arrive from overseas, this was back on September 8, 2017, a time when Jamil was held in the Montgomery Correctional Facility where he had been arrested for a different crime.
As investigators continued to venture more into the case, they came to find out that the suspects had also been operating another apartment in Upper Merion Township.
The two suspects supposedly did this after realizing their first stash house had been identified and compromised.
Officials were then able to intercept some packages from China through JFK International Airport. As records indicate, a Hong Kong-sourced packaged was intercepted at JFK Airport on October 25, 2017. The package reportedly contained approximately 99 grams of fentanyl.
It did not take many days after the first intercept before another one was intercepted in mid-November at the same place, only that this time it was containing a fentanyl supply of approximately 200 grams.
The Case at Hand
After investigators had collected enough evidence on the case, with the two suspects in their custody, they presented the items to the court. District Court Judge Karen Zucker of Narberth heard the case accordingly.
The two were charged with corrupt operations, possession (and intent to deliver) controlled substances, carrying out unlawful activities, among other charges.
Judge Zucker gave each suspect a bail of about $250,000 cash to be released and report to the court on the hearing date. Both were unable to raise the set bail thus would remain in county jail until their April hearing.
As their case awaits final hearing and sentencing, the two men will remain in the custody of the police. A lot of praises to the police who arrested the duo streamed from all over, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro being one of them.
The Drug Crisis in Montgomery County & Beyond
According to a joint report produced by the DEA Philadelphia Division and the University of Pittsburgh, Montgomery County recorded nearly 29 overdose-related deaths for every 100,000 residents in 2016.
A recent uptick in opioid-linked deaths has also been experienced in Montgomery County. This has prompted all the stakeholders to strongly condemn the use of opioid-related drugs in the area.
And though fentanyl remains a core component of the national opioid epidemic, fentanyl analogs like carfenanil are an emerging concern among state and district-level communities across the U.S., including Montgomery County.
Montgomery District Attorney Kevin Steele was quoted as stating that this was the first case in which local law enforcement had seen carfentanil being sold in town.
Deaths related to fentanyl analogs have been on the rise in American society. Recently, on a national level, this prompted the current administration headed by President Donald Trump to formulate new laws aimed to curb U.S.-bound opioid trafficking. Although there remain loopholes through which the traffickers are taking advantage of, if arrested with the drugs, high penalty and imprisonment will be imposed under the proposed legislation.
The high profit margin seen with the sale of these drugs makes the traffickers move their operations online to the dark web, then exporting and importing drugs internationally—as was the case with the recent Montgomery County arrests.
It has been a game of cat and mouse between law enforcement and traffickers who are devising new methods of bringing drugs into the country through the dark web. The FBI recently initiated Operation Disarray, a program aiming at arresting drug traffickers who use the dark web to sell and buy related opioid drugs.
As cases continue unfolding in the eyes of the public, officials continue to warn the alarming level of overdose deaths stifling the livelihood of citizens throughout the U.S.