Drug kingpin Noah Landfried of Moon, who once got life in prison in an Illinois case only to be released after less than eight years, is headed back to federal prison for nearly three decades.

U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan on Wednesday gave him 27½ years behind bars for orchestrating a drug ring that operated inside the U.S. prison system and on the streets of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

The judge imposed 300 months on Landfried, 38, for drug trafficking and money laundering and another 30 for violating his probation from the prosecution in Illinois, where agents and police said he shipped two tons of pot from Mexico into the U.S. and drove it to Pittsburgh.

In the more recent case, Landfried went on trial in December 2021 and was convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, fentanyl and heroin. He was also the mastermind behind a smuggling operation that sent drug-soaked legal papers and greeting cards into federal prisons, where inmates paid for it with their prison accounts and then sent payment to inmate dealers and ultimately to Landfried and his cohorts on the outside.

Federal prosecutors asked Ranjan to sentence Landfried to life in prison, since that’s what he got last time but went right back to drug dealing after his early release. Landfried’s lawyer said he should get 15 years.

He and two dozen associates, including many prison inmates, were indicted here in 2019.

In the Illinois case, the DEA said Landfried and his brother Ross led a group of criminals, many from Ambridge and Aliquippa, in shipping hundreds of pounds of marijuana from Mexico into Nevada and Arizona, then driving it to Pittsburgh for distribution.

In 2010, a judge sent Landfried to prison for life. But the sentence was later reduced to 200 months as a result of reductions in federal sentencing guidelines for drug dealers. He got out in 2017.

His sister testified that he was looking forward to working in legitimate jobs. But that was a lie. Landfried went right back to the drug life. He re-upped with his Mexican contact and started receiving truckloads of cocaine across the U.S. border with Mexico. When the Mexican source started having trouble coming up with cocaine, Landfried supplemented the business by dealing in oxycodone, fentanyl and heroin.

He also started the prison ring by soaking paper with synthetic cannabinoids, or K2, for inmates to smoke or chew.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Haller said Landfried’s motive was simple: greed.

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.

Torsten Ove

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.