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Netherlands man pleads guilty to Ecstasy charges

| Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

A man from the Netherlands has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to charges of supplying Ecstasy to one of several interconnected rings that distributed the popular rave drug to college campuses and clubs throughout Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Sefan Stricker, 34, who fought extradition to the United States for more than a year following his arrest by Dutch authorities, pleaded guilty to seven counts of importing ecstasy from Holland to the United States and one count of money-laundering.

Authorities seized 10,000 Ecstasy pills, 40 kilograms of hashish, and several handguns and machine guns with silencers when they apprehended Stricker, prosecutors said.

He is one of more than three dozen people who have been prosecuted in the past two years for trafficking hundreds of thousands of Ecstasy pills to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Stricker admitted mailing 19 packages containing approximately 150,000 Ecstasy pills -- stashed in hollowed-out mirrors -- to the United States, prosecutors said. He acknowledged being the Dutch source of a drug ring based at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and headed by 26-year-old Ryan Shank, an IUP student from Alexandria, Va.

Shank was introduced to Stricker by Michael Maser, 34, formerly of Altoona, Blair County, who helped arrange for couriers to travel to Amsterdam with some $670,000 to pay for the pills.

Stricker's direct connection to the drug manufacturers allowed him and Maser to undercut Shank's previous supplier, Oleg "Alex" Logatchev, 24, a former Penn State student and Mt. Washington resident, who was one of the operators of the former Club Phlo in the Strip District. Shank, Maser and Logatchev are all serving federal prison sentences.

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