Investigation Led to Discovery of Methamphetamine and Marijuana Distribution Ring

United States Attorney's OfficeImage via United States Attorney's Office

PITTSBURGH, PA — A former resident of Grants Pass, Oregon, pleaded guilty in federal court to violation of federal narcotics and money laundering laws related to a nine-month Title III wiretap investigation into drug trafficking in and around the counties of Jefferson, Clearfield, and Allegheny, United States Attorney Cindy Chung announced.

George Charlan, age 34, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possesses with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and a quantity of marijuana as well as one count of conspiracy to launder money before United States District Judge Christy Criswell Wiegand. Charlan was one of 47 defendants charged in six related indictments as part of the Return to Sender investigation.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Charlan orchestrated the shipment of over 280 pounds of methamphetamine and 100 kilograms of marijuana from California and Nevada to Jefferson County, Clearfield County, and Allegheny County. Charlan also directed the shipment of a large amount of United States currency representing drug proceeds that was used to purchase additional methamphetamine and marijuana from the Western District of Pennsylvania to California. Charlan then directed Christian Maldonado to transport the remaining drug profits to Charlan.

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Judge Wiegand scheduled sentencing for Charlan on Nov. 29, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. The law provides for a sentence of not less than ten years to a maximum of life in prison, a fine not to exceed $10,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court ordered that the defendant remain detained.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan D. Lusty and Michael R. Ball are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Drug Enforcement Administration led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the Homeland Security Investigations, United States Postal Service – Office of Inspector General, United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Services, Pittsburgh  Bureau of Police, Allegheny County Police, and Pennsylvania State Police. Also assisting were the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Clearfield County District Attorney’s Office, and the Clarion Borough Police Department.

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