By Carl Hessler Jr., The Mercury
NORRISTOWN — A Delaware County man who used the “dark web” to import the deadly drugs fentanyl and carfentanil from China to Montgomery County, drugs with a street value of $200,000, is on his way to prison.
Jamil I. Chapman, 28, of the 800 block of Spruce Street, Collingdale, remained stone-faced on Thursday as Montgomery County Judge Todd D. Eisenberg sentenced him to a total of 8-to-16-years in a state correctional facility on charges of possession with intent to deliver controlled substances and conspiracy in connection with incidents that occurred between June 2017 and February 2018 in Lower and Upper Merion townships.
The sentence included consecutive prison terms for some of the crimes to which Chapman pleaded guilty.
“You understand this poison you were selling is killing people every day?” Eisenberg addressed Chapman before imposing the punishment.
Chapman acknowledged the danger associated with the drugs. However, Chapman then asked the judge if his sentences could be imposed concurrently, hoping to reduce the sentence to 6-to-12-years in prison.
Eisenberg responded by reading Chapman his appellate rights.
“I’m manning up, taking full responsibility for my actions. All I can do is prepare for my second chance in life,” said Chapman, a father of two, indicating he hoped that “second chance” would come sooner.
With the charges, prosecutors alleged Chapman used the so-called “dark web” to order, purchase and ship the fentanyl and the deadlier carfentanil from China to high-end apartments he rented in Lower Merion and Upper Merion townships.
“These are substances that can kill people. It only takes a very small amount to kill someone. We’re talking about 630 grams. This is someone who is shipping from another country. This is someone who was running a business,” said Assistant District Attorney Samantha Thompson, who argued for a lengthy prison term against Chapman.
County Detective James Wood testified the 630 grams of drugs could have been divided into 21,000 doses for street sale, producing a street value of $200,000.
Defense lawyer Henry S. Hilles III asked the judge not to “warehouse” Chapman, adding Chapman was addicted to opioids and suffered traumatic events in his life.
“It’s no defense, but can it help explain how someone can make these unfortunate choices? I think it does,” Hilles argued to the judge. “He is not a hardened drug dealer. He’s not a violent person. My client is extremely remorseful. This is not someone who should be warehoused.”
“User or not, he’s importing drugs that can kill people. He’s the connection. He is the source,” Thompson responded.
At the time of Chapman’s arrest, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele explained carfentanil is an elephant tranquilizer, a “poison” that can incapacitate a 6,600 pound elephant and trafficked to people who think they’re buying heroin. Steele alleged the deadly drugs were purchased “on the dark web.”
Thompson added recorded jailhouse phone calls showed Chapman even tried to run his business from the county jail when he was serving a previous sentence on unrelated charges.
Chapman’s nephew, Nasai J. Chapman, 24, of the first block of East Lacrosse Avenue, Lansdowne, originally was charged with conspiring with his uncle. However, during a non-jury trial in May, Eisenberg acquitted Nasai Chapman of all drug-related charges in connection with the incident.
Eisenberg determined prosecutors did not provide sufficient evidence to support the charges against Nasai Chapman, who was represented at trial by defense lawyer Michael Diamondstein.
The investigation began in Lower Merion about 10 p.m. June 17, 2017, when township police responded to a residence at the Royal Athena apartment complex on Righters Ferry Road for a report of a heroin overdose and found an unconscious Jamil Chapman, who had to be revived by police with several doses of Narcan, according to the criminal complaint. Detectives also alleged Jamil Chapman possessed 20.1 grams of heroin at the time.
Detectives alleged Jamil Chapman was using the residence to cut and package fentanyl and carfentanil for sale. Prosecutors previously alleged they believed Chapman was not a drug user but overdosed just by coming into contact with the deadly drugs.
Three months later, on Sept. 12, 2017, the Lower Merion police investigation took authorities back to the apartment complex and during a search of an apartment linked to Jamil Chapman they found 75 bags of suspected fentanyl stamped with the name “PLUTO,” according to the arrest affidavit. Police also found the presence of carfentanil on some items.
During a search, detectives also found a Western Union money order and six Moneygram money order receipts, according to the criminal complaint. Detectives alleged those involved in purchasing drugs will often use money orders or money transfers to send money in an attempt to distance themselves directly from any money payments or transactions for the items they’re purchasing.
Detectives searched the contents of a laptop computer found in the apartment and monitored conversations Jamil Chapman had with others after he reported to the county jail on Sept. 8, 2017, to serve a sentence for an unrelated crime, according to a criminal complaint.
Detectives also learned that before he reported to jail, Jamil Chapman rented another apartment at the Indigo complex along Village Drive in Upper Merion, according to the arrest affidavit.
Subsequently, detectives learned Chapman was expecting an incoming package from China to be delivered to the Upper Merion apartment, court papers indicate. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials intercepted the package incoming from Hong Kong at JFK International Airport on Oct. 25, 2017, and the investigation revealed the package contained 99 grams of fentanyl, according to the criminal complaint.
A second package was intercepted on Nov. 14, 2017, at JFK and found to contain 200 grams of fentanyl, prosecutors alleged.
“This case is a testament to the hard work of Lower Merion police. It was a complicated case in that it involved emails, it involved another country and involved large shipments of very dangerous drugs,” Thompson said.