Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)
California man faces prison for role in southeastern PA drug trafficking network
Authorities said opioids were shipped in stuffed animals from west coast to Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties
A California man is on his way to a Pennsylvania prison after he admitted to his role in a drug trafficking network that authorities said used stuffed animals to conceal opioids shipped from the west coast to luxury apartment addresses in Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties that were rented by conspirators using fraudulent identities.
Willie Donta “Pedro” Webster, 33, of the 100 block of East 116th Place, Los Angeles, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 6 to 15 years in a Pennsylvania correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to charges of possession with intent to deliver controlled substances in connection with incidents that occurred between September 2018 and June 2019.
Judge Thomas P. Rogers, who accepted a plea agreement in the case, also ordered Webster to complete five years’ probation following parole, meaning Webster will be under court supervision for 20 years.
Webster will receive credit for time he spent in jail since his arrest in July 2019 and while he waited to address the charges.
Webster was one of 16 people, including some from Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties, who were arrested in 2019 for roles in the organization. Many of the other conspirators previously pleaded guilty to charges and are serving various periods of incarceration.
At the time of the arrests county District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged the drug operation was responsible for putting “thousands” of oxycodone pills onto the county’s streets beginning in 2018, which helped fuel the opioid, heroin and fentanyl crisis in the region.
During the investigation, authorities seized 432 oxycodone pills, fentanyl, cocaine, about 1,300 grams of marijuana and opioid derivatives that were used as cutting agents for the fentanyl, according to prosecutors and court documents. Nine illegal firearms also were seized during the investigation, prosecutors said.
In court papers, detectives alleged Webster was responsible for shipping or distributing “thousands” of opiate pills to other conspirators, delivering the drugs through the U.S. Postal Service and other shipping services to apartments leased by conspirators in King of Prussia, Norristown, Chadds Ford and Exton.
Authorities alleged the conspirators used fraudulent or stolen identities to lease the luxury apartments and to ship illegal substances.
According to prosecutors, the drugs were shipped concealed inside teddy bear and bunny rabbit stuffed animals.
Once the drugs arrived in Montgomery County, conspirators were responsible for the sale of oxycodone to sub-dealers working under their control, according to the criminal complaint.
Webster and conspirators furthered their drug trafficking relationship by sending currency back and forth to each other by using the U.S. Postal Service
and electronic banking, detectives alleged.
Several of the alleged conspirators also illegally possessed and purchased multiple firearms, two of which had obliterated serial numbers, detectives alleged.
The investigation began after authorities received information that a group of individuals was fraudulently utilizing an apartment in King of Prussia for the purpose of drug trafficking, according to the criminal complaint.
Other charges of corrupt organizations, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, criminal use of communication facilities, possession of drug paraphernalia and conspiracy were dismissed against Webster as part of the plea agreement.
In addition to county detectives and Upper Merion police, the multiagency investigation involved the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Police from Lower Merion, Lower Providence, Radnor, Philadelphia, New Castle County, Delaware, Los Angeles and the Pennsylvania State Police also assisted with the investigation.