Ringleaders Found Guilty in ‘Operation Snail Mail’ Meth Trafficking Case

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Jeff Burkett, the District Attorney of Jefferson County, announced today that, after a week-long jury trial, two defendants were found guilty of all charges connected to their involvement in the “Operation Snail Mail” case.

(Pictured left to right: Larry Dean and Daniel Hopkins)

According to information released by District Attorney Burkett’s office, Larry J. Dean and Daniel K. Hopkins were found guilty of all charges (21 counts each) connected to their involvement in the case.

Burkett stated, “Dean and Hopkins were at the top of our supply chain in this case. They were the ones importing pounds of methamphetamine from the Tucson, Arizona area directly into Jefferson County using the United States Mail. From there, it was being distributed widely throughout Jefferson, Clearfield, and Clarion Counties. I am very gratified to have taken down the two who were at the top rung of this evil scheme.”

Burkett, who tried this case along with Senior Deputy Attorney General Mamie Sheehan-Balchon, said, “This case was a wonderful example of what happens when agencies band together in a common cause. This case involved the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and the United States Postal Inspectors. We could not have obtained these convictions without all of their combined hard work. Also, it was truly a pleasure trying this case with SDAG Sheehan-Balchon. She worked so very hard on this case and shouldered a lot of the burden. I am very thankful for her efforts.”

After the verdicts were announced, Attorney General Shapiro said, “Crystal meth trafficking is a growing problem in Pennsylvania, particularly in rural parts of our state.”

“When drug dealers from other states targeted rural Pennsylvania, our agents and prosecutors stopped them and shut this operation down. These guilty verdicts show we’re getting dangerous drug dealers off the street and helping to keep North Central Pennsylvania safe.”

To date, 23 defendants connected with the “Operation Snail Mail” crystal meth ring have entered guilty pleas to charges of possession with intent to deliver, conspiracy, and other offenses. Fellow ringleader Joseph Kot, Sr., was previously sentenced to nine to 20 years in prison.

Attorney General Shapiro credited law enforcement cooperation for taking down the ring.

“I’d like to thank Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett’s office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance in breaking up this drug trafficking operation,” Attorney General Shapiro said.

Sentencing for Dean and Hopkins is scheduled for April 4. Both face potentially lengthy incarcerations, including maximum prison sentences of up to 340 years in jail each.

Case Background

On September 25, 2017, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced criminal charges against 30 drug dealers in connection with the shipment and sale of $1.6 million in crystal methamphetamine in Clarion, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, and Jefferson counties over the preceding year and a half.

The crystal meth was shipped to Jefferson County and the surrounding area through the U.S. mail from drug dealers in Arizona and California. It was then sold throughout North Central Pennsylvania by a network of 30 drug dealers.

Most of the crystal meth shipments into North Central Pennsylvania were done by Larry Dean, 58, who maintained residences in Mayport, PA, and Tucson, AZ.

The following individuals were charged with conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver drugs and corrupt organizations on September 25, 2017:

Joshua Carson, 32, of Victorville, CA
Eric Clark, 38, of Brockway, PA
Larry Dean, 58, of Mayport, PA
Destiny Douglas, 21, of DuBois, PA
Anthony Dubeck, 57, of DuBois, PA
Angela Gilbert, 20, of DuBois, PA
Patrick Groves, 36, of Reynoldsville, PA
Jeanne Gouldthread, 34, of DuBois, PA
Dale Hanlin, 66, of Cooksburg, PA
Tracy Harmon, 56, Mayport, PA
Daniel Hopkins, 50, Tucson, AZ
Deren Issler, 51, of Brockway, PA
Christina Kinder, 43, of DuBois, PA
Joseph Kot, Sr., 38, of DuBois, PA
Matthew McKinley, 47, of Brookville, PA
Sasha Messina, 27, of Shippenville, PA
Marc Panzer, 35, of Brookville, PA
Brian Pentz, 31, of DuBois, PA
Meredith Pisoni, 38, of Brockway, PA
Shane Porrin, 32, of DuBois, PA
Sonya Pritchard, 52, of Bakersfield, CA
Brittney Royer, 27, Clearfield, PA
Renea Sherwood, 20, DuBois, PA
Mikelle Shetley, 32, of DuBois, PA
Tammy Smiley, 51, Falls Creek, PA
Mason Solida, 41, Brookville, PA
Kari Stoneberg, 40, DuBois, PA
George Watson, 50, Luthersburg, PA
Matthew Watson, 30, Luthersburg, PA
Michael Wolfgang, 27, Sigel, PA

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