March 28, 2018
Montgomery County prosecutors announced two arrests Wednesday in a massive drug bust involving Chinese shipments of the deadly synthetic opioids fentanyl and carfentanil.
The investigation, dating back to the summer of 2017, began after a concerned citizen reported suspicious drug activity at the luxury Royal Athena apartments in Bala Cynwyd, where police had recently responded to an apparent heroin overdose.
Authorities began closely monitoring potential criminal operations at the location, identifying Jamil I. Chapman, 26, and his nephew, Nasai J. Chapman, 23, as suspects in an alleged dark web drug trade with Chinese suppliers.
A criminal complaint detailing the allegations against the Chapmans reveals a series of alleged phone conversations, some audaciously conducted on a prison line, about imminent drug transactions and logistics.
In September 2017, investigators found 75 bags of suspected fentanyl and acrylfentanyl inside the same apartment where the overdose took place three months earlier. The bags were marked with the word "PLUTO" and other evidence tested positive for carfentanil, prosecutors said.
When detectives learned that the Chapmans were expecting to receive an incoming shipment from China, Homeland Security investigators intercepted the package at JFK International Airport on Oct. 25, 2017.
Lab tests showed the package contained 99 grams of fentanyl, while a second package intercepted in November contained 200 grams of fentanyl.
Authorities later tracked down other orders the Chapmans allegedly received from China, seizing a total of 300 grams of fentanyl. They also documented pending shipments of 400 to 500 grams of the much deadlier carfentanil.
“Fentanyl is cheap and deadly, since it’s 50 times stronger than heroin," said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. "But as dangerous as fentanyl is, carfentanil is substantially more dangerous since it’s a drug developed to tranquilize a three-ton elephant. It’s 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine."
Steele said the case marks the first evidence of carfentanil trafficking in Montgomery County.
The Chapmans face multiple felony counts including operating a corrupt organization and related drug charges. Both defendants are being held at Montgomery County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail and will each have preliminary hearings on April 10.