February 15, 2011
Contact: SSA Henry Vinson
Phone Number: (215) 861-3474
Drug Trafficker Sentenced To 15 Years
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Michael Cupeto, 48, of Elk Mills, Maryland, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by U.S. District Court Senior Judge John P. Fullam for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, and possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, announced Zane David Memeger, United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Drug Enforcement (DEA) Special Agent in Charge John J. Bryfonski of the Philadelphia Division.
Michael Cupeto, aka ‘Monkey,’ was the leader of a drug trafficking ring that conspired to obtain multi-kilogram quantities of methamphetamine in Arizona and transported the methamphetamine back to Elkton, Maryland, between mid-2007 and October 2009. Cupeto and his conspirators then distributed the methamphetamine in surrounding areas, including Chester County, Pennsylvania.
“Methamphetamine is the scourge of society and leads those who abuse it to certain tragedy. It has been associated with untold numbers of cases involving domestic and child abuse that destroyed families and lives throughout the United States. This case brought to justice those seeking to profit from the misery of others by orchestrating the distribution of massive quantities of methamphetamine in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the northeast. This cooperative, multi-state and multi-agency effort by prosecutors and law enforcement authorities was precisely what was necessary to be able to bring down this organization and have them face justice,” said Bryfonski.
The case was investigated jointly by the Philadelphia Division of the DEA, the Cecil County, Maryland, Drug Task Force; the Cecil County, Maryland, Sheriff's Office; the Maryland State Police; the Elkton, Maryland, Police Department; the Chester (Pennsylvania) Detectives; and the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Kyriakakis.
Between June 2009 and September 2009, numerous state authorized wiretaps were conducted which identified a large scale methamphetamine operation operating among Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Arizona. Cupeto was identified as a methamphetamine source of supply capable of transporting 20-40 pound quantities of methamphetamine from Arizona to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States for distribution approximately every two months. During the course of the investigation, 22 pounds of methamphetamine was seized in November 2009 in Arizona from a Mexican drug trafficking organization. To date, eight high-level members of the organization have been indicted in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania including Cupeto and the Arizona source of supply. Additionally, approximately 20 individuals have been arrested and charged by state authorities in Chester County, Pennsylvania. As a result of the investigation to date, approximately $178,000 in assets has been seized by law enforcement authorities.