On 19 August 2019, Sky Justin Gornik 39, was handed a prison sentence of 70 months by the District Court Judge Anthony J. Battaglia for his involvement in the illicit dark web drug trade on the dark web. Gornik also admitted forfeiting millions of dollars in cryptocurrency after pleading guilty to multiple counts of drug-related charges.
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According to the report, Gornik opened an account on Aphabay Market, Outlaw Market, Dream Market, and a few other dark web drug marketplaces to buy and sell drugs including methamphetamine, amphetamine, oxycodone pills, dimethyltryptamine, ketamine, naloxone, psilocybin and psilocin from 2014 to 7 June 2017.
Execution of a search warrant in his residence on 7 June 2017, led to the discovery of sheets of fentanyl gelatin tablet which was said to be about 100 tablets per sheet. According to the press release by the U.S. Justice Department, Gornik’s main source of drugs was Steven Wallace George, a dark web drug vendor who resided in Oklahoma. It was estimated that he obtained around 600 to 1200 fentanyl gelatin tablets for a week within the space of two years.
On the day of his arrest, authorities also seized 1.7 grams of carfentanil. Carfentanil has been said to be a very potent drug and even 100 times potent than fentanyl. The seized 1.7 grams of carfentanil is said to be equated to about 86,000 fatal dosages according to a report.
On 8 May 2018, Gornik pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver, distribute and dispense controlled substances through the internet. He also pleaded guilty to laundering criminal proceeds using cryptocurrencies. The U.S. Justice Department stated that Gornik laundered money in Bitcoin, 2350 Monero, Stratis, and Ethereum, through his Poloniex and Bittrex exchange accounts.
U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman earlier stated after the guilty plea of Gornik, that they will continue to arrest and prosecute dealers and vendors who continue to endanger lives of the community and first responders by selling drugs.
The arrest of Gornik led to the arrest of another dark web drug dealer, Adolf Garza, a former U.S. Navy Commander. Garza became the center of an investigation after authorities found a ledger on Gornik’s computer which contained the list of drug types, amount sold, buyers’ screen names and addresses.
A few weeks later, the Custom and Border Protection officers confiscated a package from the Netherlands meant to be delivered to “DOLPH GARZA 3635 7TH AVENUE 9E SAN DIEGO, CA 92103”. Authorities traced the address to Garza’s residence after discovering the package contained 11 grams of MDMA. On 23 April 2013, another package meant to be delivered to the same address was confiscated by the Custom and Border Protection. It was discovered that the package contained 32 grams of white powdery substance which tested positive to ketamine test.
Two days later, authorities seized another package at the Chicago International Mail facility which was said to be originated from the Netherland. The package which was being addressed to Garza contained 125 tablets which tested positive to MDMA/Ecstasy.
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On the authority of the statement released by the U S. Justice department, Juan Munoz, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI stated emphatically that the 70 months prison sentence of Gornik is an indication that the Homeland Security Investigation alongside the federal partners are committed to working tirelessly to bringing criminals to justice. He promised that they will continue to pursue criminals and ensure that those who violate the law and jeopardize the safety of the community are subjected to the authority of the law.
U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr., also issued a strong warning to dark web drug traffickers, stating that they will not permit the selling and delivering of dangerous dark web drugs as casual as Amazon Prime Packages. It was stated that they will ensure the long hands of the law reaches any criminal even if they hide behind the anonymous nature of the online black market. Authorities have taken proactive measures through some recent operations including shutting down some dark web drug markets.
As claimed by the press release, Nichole Cooper, Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division revealed that fighting drugs in the mail has been a top priority of the Postal Inspection Service. He said that working with other partners will ensure that the high influx of drugs into the country is controlled.
Recently, the dark web was blamed for the high rate of drugs sent from the Netherlands. It was estimated that the seizure of amphetamine and ecstasy found in posts had tripled from 137kg in 2016 to 460kg in 2018. This has forced authorities to ensure that postal officers are equipped enough to detect and confiscate all kinds of illegal dark web drugs.
Source: U.S Justice Department
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