GAINESVILLE, GA. - L'Houssain Mahdioui, 37, of Amsterdam, Netherlands, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge William O’Kelley to federal prison on charges of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and the importation of LSD into the United States. Mahdioui, who was extradited to the United States to face sentencing today, was the final defendant to be sentenced in the case code-named Operation Dutch Connection. A second defendant involved in the drug scheme is already serving a federal prison sentence.
“This case speaks to the importance of international law enforcement cooperation. DEA has a robust foreign presence in a number of countries,” said Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Atlanta Field Division. “In this case, that cooperation led to the successful extradition and prosecution of this international poly-drug trafficker.”
“We continue to see drugs come into our communities from other countries, but the drug pushers need local sources and distributors to help do their dirty work. It is extremely difficult for local and state authorities to find and arrest the real sources of such drug distribution networks thousands of miles away,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “In this case, an extensive international investigation and an extradition was necessary to cut off the flow of LSD, ecstasy and other dangerous drugs to our area. A successful fight against those who import illegal drugs into our country requires cooperation not only at the federal, state and local level, but also with our international law enforcement counterparts.”
“The U.S. Postal Service has no interest in being the unwitting accomplice to anyone using the U.S. mail to distribute illegal drugs. Postal Inspectors primary objectives are to rid the mail of illicit drug trafficking, preserve the integrity of the mail and, most important, provide a safe environment for postal employees and the American public.” said Martin D. Phanco, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division.
Mahdioui was sentenced to 11 years, three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $3,000. Mahdioui was convicted of these charges on October 27, 2010, upon his plea of guilty. Mahdioui also agreed to forfeit $70,000 to the United States that was seized by Dutch officials at the time of his arrest.
Co-conspirator Nicholas Albano III, of Gainesville, Georgia, was sentenced on February 12, 2010, to eight years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Nicholas Albano III, pleaded guilty on November 3, 2009, to charges of possession with the intent to distribute ecstasy, using a communication facility to facilitate drug trafficking, and receiving child pornography.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In 2008 DEA received information from an anonymous source in the Netherlands using the alias of “John the Dutchman,” who claimed that Albano was obtaining drugs via the U.S. mail and distributing drugs from his residence in Gainesville. Based on this information, DEA agents and postal inspectors conducted an investigation, and obtained and executed a search warrant on Albano’s residence in Gainesville. While attempting to make entry into Albano’s residence, Albano obtained a firearm and attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. Emergency medical crews immediately began attempting to treat Albano. During a search of his residence, agents seized, among other things, LSD, MDMA, psilocin mushrooms and marijuana. Agents also seized several images depicting child pornography from Albano’s computer.
Albano survived the single gunshot wound to his head and ultimately agreed to cooperate with law enforcement. Based on Albano’s cooperation and several related investigations, agents learned that “John the Dutchman” was in reality Mahdioui, and that Mahdioui was himself one of the international sources from whom Albano obtained drugs. The investigation revealed that Mahdioui disclosed Albano’s drug trafficking activities to law enforcement because of a dispute over drug money owed by Albano to Mahdioui. The investigation further revealed that Mahdioui, based in the Netherlands, had recruited Albano and others in the United States, via internet chat rooms, to act as distributors or “re-shippers” of drugs to U.S. based customers that had ordered drugs via the internet.
In May 2009, working with the authorities in the Netherlands, federal agents in Atlanta set up an international undercover sting operation. Agents in Atlanta communicated with Mahdioui via e-mail and ordered 1,000 hits of LSD, at a price of $5,000, to be shipped to a post office box in the United States. Following Mahdioui’s instructions, agents sent the money, and law enforcement agents from the Netherlands conducted surveillance as Mahdioui picked up the money from a mail facility in the Netherlands. Mahdioui acknowledged receipt of the money via e-mail and several days later sent the agents the LSD.
Within a month, in June 2009, agents arranged for a second shipment of LSD to the United States, but arranged with Dutch authorities to arrest Mahdioui prior to the drugs being sent. A search of his residence in the Netherlands revealed 17,000 hits of LSD, 400 tablets of ecstasy, and $70,000 in U.S. currency. Mahdioui was extradited to the United States to face charges on August 27, 2010.
This case was investigated by the Strike Force along with Inspectors from the United States Postal Inspection Service, with assistance from IRS-Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the umbrella of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Assistant United States Attorneys Bret Williams, Scott Hulsey and Dahil Goss prosecuted the case.
DEA Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.