A San Diego man who ran a dark web drug trafficking scheme has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Erik Alexi Martineau admitted before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major to mailing over 7,800 parcels of illicit drugs from San Diego to different parts of the country.
The San Diego man used the dark web to sell methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin and used mail collection boxes in distributing orders to his clients. Court documents revealed that Martineau shipped over 100 boxes of controlled substances a week to his clients. Additional reports added that the San Diego dark web drug dealer shipped that large number of drugs for 18 straight months before getting busted by law enforcement.
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According to U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, this case further highlights how dark web drug traffickers are using the United States postal services to expand and grow their business. “The use of the United States Postal Service to distribute controlled substances, particularly deadly opioids put the Postal Service and the public at risk,” U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, stated. “We are not going to allow online drug traffickers to hijack the U.S. Mail,” he added.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson, the prosecutor of the case, also chipped in saying that, dark web drug distributors are tapping into the postal service partly because of its because it’s reliability. She stated that, these the dark web and this option of delivering illegal drugs makes it easier for users to lay hands on drugs from anywhere and that investigators with the U.S. Postal Service and Department of Homeland Security are seeing more of these cases every day. U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson added that drug users and dealers no longer need to go to the wrong side of the neighborhood or meet a gang member to buy drugs, you just order it on the dark web. She added that they’re so good that the online drug traffickers are now manipulating it.
According to Martineau’s plea agreement, he had a storage unit in San Diego County which he rented for the sole purpose of packaging illegal substances including methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl before shipping them to his clients in various locations. The San Diego drug dealer also had a business account at an office supply store so that he could have access and print shipping labels for his parcels which contained illegal drugs. He then dropped the parcels into blue postal boxes at several locations in the county.
Martineau’s dark web drug trafficking gang shipped not less than 13.6kg of methamphetamine a month. In addition to that, other controlled substances were smuggled through Calexico and San Diego. Court documents also revealed that the dark web drug dealer was receiving orders from his co-conspirators on the correct amount of each substance to package at the storage facility and when to mail them out.
According to investigators, Martineau received many shipping labels from others from January 2018 to June 29, 2019, and printed them at his office supply store. He picked up the illegal drugs from several locations in San Diego and then them in his rented storage unit.
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Martineau was followed by investigators during one of his routines where he moved from one collection box to another, picking up packages full of controlled substances. The police later found out that, the packages were addressed to different clients in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan and North Dakota. Investigators, later filed for search warrants for the packages when they reached their destinations and found out that, they all contained illegal drugs.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson, stated that investigators got a hold of Martineau’s dark web drug trafficking scheme after a parcel full of illegal drugs couldn’t be delivered to its intended destination. The package was therefore mailed back to the return address on it but didn’t make it to Martineau as the address wasn’t his. The package instead went to some local residents who had no knowledge of what it was and later returned it to the postal service. After employees of the postal service opened the package, they found its illegal contents and alerted the police.
Officers of the U.S. Postal Inspectors and Homeland Security Investigations, and other law enforcement seized over hundreds of parcels containing controlled substances, whiles investigating this case. Mr. Brewer commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson and federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspectors for working hard to uncover this dark web drug trafficking scheme.
The San Diego man is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30, 2020. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 million. Martineau is a U.S citizen who split his time between San Diego and Mexico. An accomplice in this dark web drug trafficking scheme was also arrested in August 2019. That case is ongoing.
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