An alleged conspiracy to import and distribute deadly fentanyl and synthetic opioids touched Central Illinois.
Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia announced charges against three Chinese nationals Tuesday. Deyao Chen, Guichun Chen, and Liangtu Pan face 63 drug-related criminal charges.
Prosecutors said the three took online orders for controlled substances under the psuedonym "Alex." Prosecutors said they then mailed the drugs from China to David Landis of Pennsylvania for wide distribution across the United States. Landis was a former deputy of the Montgomery County, Penn. Sheriff's Office.
Approximately 2,900 drug packages were mailed in 2016 and 2017.
A purchaser in Granville, Illinois, about an hour north of Peoria, was one of five known people across the U.S. who bought the drugs and later died of an overdose.
“Make no mistake: China is waging an undeclared war on our country and our American way of life, with deadly drugs serving as its weapon of choice,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain in prepared remarks. “China is supplying the United States with the most potent and deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids on the market today.
The TRI-DENT law enforcement group based out of LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties helped in the investigation.
The defendants face potential life imprisonment if convicted. Landis pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing for his role.