Score:   1
Docket Number:   D-SD  4:18-cr-40056
Case Name:   USA v. Monette
  Press Releases:
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced additional case developments in federal drug prosecutions occurring in approximately the past six weeks.  During any lapse in Congressional appropriations, the U.S. Department of Justice has contingency procedures to ensure that the Department’s essential public safety and national security missions continue unabated.  As a result, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal investigative agencies continued to work full-time alongside their state, local, and tribal partners on all criminal cases and prosecutions throughout the partial federal government shutdown, which now has ended.

“The men and women at every level of law enforcement working here in South Dakota should be commended for their exceptional efforts in helping to bring drug trafficking offenders to justice and take these deadly poisons off the streets,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “The high quality of investigative police work done by these professionals continues to produce outstanding results.”

In approximately the past six weeks, the following investigations, involving 42 criminal defendants, have resulted in previously unannounced indictments, arraignments, guilty pleas, or prison sentences in drug-related prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota.  In the cases listed below, 33 defendants were involved in trafficking methamphetamine, and at least 11 defendants were involved in trafficking opioids such as heroin and fentanyl.

FEDERAL INDICTMENTS

Shannon Lee Coon.  On December 11, 2018, Shannon Lee Coon (age 42) of Sioux Falls, SD, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on a federal charge for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  The charge is merely an accusation and Coon is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Curtis Samuel Webb and Roderick Leon Scott.  Curtis Samuel Webb, also known as Corey Shawn Smith (age 42) and Roderick Leon Scott (age 43) both of Sioux Falls, SD, were indicted for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  On December 14, 2018, Webb was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  On December 18, 2018, Scott was arraigned before Judge Duffy and also pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  Both Webb and Scott were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  These charges are merely accusations and Webb and Scott are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Jess Brian Ducheneaux. On December 18, 2018, Jess Brian Ducheneaux (age 56) of Eagle Butte, SD, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on a federal charge of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  Ducheneaux pleaded not guilty and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  On January 23, 2019, a Superseding Indictment was filed charging Ducheneaux with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and adding additional charges of maintaining a drug-involved premises in Ridgeview, SD, for the purpose of distributing methamphetamine, distributing it to a person under the age of 21, possession of methamphetamine, and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.  These charges are merely accusations and Ducheneaux is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

Michael Anthony Williams.  On December 18, 2018, Michael Anthony Williams (age 32) of Sioux Falls, SD, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  He pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  The maximum penalty is a mandatory 10 years in federal prison up to life.  Williams was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  The charge is merely an accusation and Williams is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Felon Marie Bad Milk.  On December 18, 2018, a federal indictment was filed against Felon Marie Bad Milk, a/k/a Fallon (age 34), of Manderson, SD, charging her with False Statements Relating to Health Care Matters and Attempt to Obtain Controlled Substance by Fraud (hydrocodone, a prescription opioid).  She was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on December 21, 2018, and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  These charges are merely accusations and Bad Milk is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Michael Carey and Robin Wallach.  Husband and wife Michael David Carey (age 57) and Robin Lianne Wallach (age 55), both of Rapid City, SD, were federally indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  Carey was additionally charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  On December 21, 2018, Wallach appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  At his arraignment before Judge Wollmann in November, Carey also pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  These charges are merely accusations and Carey and Wallach are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Michael Bettelyoun.  On January 2, 2019, Michael Bettelyoun (age 25) of Rapid City, SD, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on federal charges for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine) on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, as well as Possession of Ammunition by a Prohibited Person.  He pleaded not guilty to the Indictment and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  These charges are merely accusations and Bettelyoun is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Cole Emery and Shelbyjo Two Eagle, a/k/a Shelbyjo Larvie.  On January 2, 2019, Cole Emery (age 24) and Shelbyjo Two Eagle, also known as Shelbyjo Larvie (age 24) both of Mission, SD, were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on federal charges for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.  The Indictment specifically alleges that Emery conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, while Two Eagle conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.  The Indictment further alleges that Two Eagle, being an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance, unlawfully possessed 9mm ammunition.  Both pleaded not guilty.  They were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  These charges are merely accusations and Emery and Two Eagle are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Justin Robert Christensen; Nicholas Scott Flier; Paris Bryn Koller; and Brandon Alan Watters.  On January 8, 2019, Justin Robert Christensen (age 30) of Sioux Falls, SD; Nicholas Scott Flier (age 25) of Valley Springs, SD; Paris Bryn Koller (age 25) address unknown; and Brandon Alan Watters (age 24) of Sioux Falls, SD, were indicted in federal court for a conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  These charges are merely accusations and Christensen, Flier, Koller, and Watters are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Samuel Patrick O’Rourke.  On January 9, 2019, Samuel Patrick O’Rourke (age 36) of Rapid City, SD, was arraigned in federal court by U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on one count of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine) and two counts of Distribution of a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  He pleaded not guilty to the Indictment and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  These charges are merely accusations and O’Rourke is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Ian Royal Bjornstad.  On January 15, 2019, Ian Royal Bjornstad (age 41) of Carlsbad, CA, was arraigned in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy in Sioux Falls on a charge for distribution of heroin resulting in death.  He pleaded not guilty to the Indictment and was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  The charge is merely an accusation and Bjornstad is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Larry Gerard Norquist.  On January 23, 2019, a federal indictment was filed against Larry Gerard Norquist (age 54) of Rapid City, SD, charging him with two counts of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine and heroin).  On January 25, 2019, he was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  He was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  These charges are merely accusations and Norquist is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Dana Faulkner, a/k/a “Diablo.”  On January 23, 2019, a federal Superseding Indictment was filed against Dana Faulkner, also known as “Diablo” (age 40), of Aurora, CO, charging him with Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances (methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine) in the Rapid City and Northern Black Hills area, Use of Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime, Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, and Obstruction of Justice.  Faulkner remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.  These charges are merely accusations and Faulkner is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Jocelyn Chasing Hawk.  On January 23, 2019, Jocelyn Chasing Hawk, also known as Jocelyn Bear Eagle (age 37) of Eagle Butte, SD, was indicted for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine) on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.  The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in federal prison.  The Indictment alleges that Chasing Hawk intentionally combined and conspired with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of meth.   The charge is merely an accusation and Chasing Hawk is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Clinton Lewis Haukaas. On January 23, 2019, Clinton Lewis Haukaas (age 39) of Rosebud, SD, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on federal charges for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.  The Superseding Indictment alleges that Haukaas knowingly and intentionally combined, conspired, and confederated with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  The Superseding Indictment also alleges that on or about June 6, 2018, Haukaas, then being an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance, knowingly possessed a firearm, which had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce.  These charges are merely accusations and Haukaas is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Arlene Siers.  On January 23, 2019, Arlene Siers (age 30) of Mission, SD, was indicted by a federal grand jury for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.  She appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on January 31, 2019, and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.  The Indictment alleges that Siers, knowingly and intentionally, combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed with others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  The Indictment further alleges that on August 31, 2018, Siers possessed a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and that while she possessed the firearm, she was a user of and addicted to a controlled substance.  The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in federal prison and/or a $10 million fine and 5 years of supervised release.  These charges are merely accusations and Siers is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Nathan Reuer.  On January 24, 2019, a federal criminal complaint was filed against Nathan Reuer (age 25) of Rapid City, SD, charging him with Importation of a Controlled Substance and Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin).  These charges are merely accusations and Reuer is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Sheri Rademacher.  On January 29, 2019, Sheri Rademacher, also known as Sherri Lynn Whiting (age 44) of Britton, SD, was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Moreno on federal charges for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine), Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine), and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person.  She pleaded not guilty.  These charges are merely accusations and Rademacher is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

GUILTY PLEAS

Harold Brewer, Jr.  On December 28, 2018, Harold Brewer, Jr. (age 29) of Pine Ridge, SD, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann and pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  As part of his involvement in the conspiracy, Brewer obtained methamphetamine from co-conspirators and sold it to multiple people in Western South Dakota.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 18, 2019, before Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken.  Brewer faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both, and a term of supervised release.

Cathy Wells.  On January 4, 2019, Cathy Wells (age 50) of Box Elder, SD, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann and pleaded guilty Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  As part of her involvement in the conspiracy, Wells obtained methamphetamine from Colorado, transported it to South Dakota, and sold it to multiple people in the Rapid City area.  Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2019.   Wells faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both, and a term of supervised release.

Joseph Bradshaw.  On January 25, 2019, Joseph Bradshaw (age 37) of Sturgis, SD, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann and pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  Bradshaw obtained the methamphetamine from California and sold it to multiple people in the Northern Hills and Rapid City area.  As part of his scheme, Bradshaw hid his methamphetamine and proceeds in the forest.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 18, 2019.  Bradshaw faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years up to life in prison, a $10 million fine, or both, and a term of supervised release.

Jeffrey Donald Bartholomew.  On January 31, 2019, Jeffrey Donald Bartholomew (age 30) of Denver, CO, appeared before U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier and pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance.  Beginning at a date unknown and continuing through June 19, 2017, Bartholomew knowingly and intentionally combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed with others to distribute 400 grams or more of fentanyl obtained over the Dark Web.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 22, 2019.

Trish Ann Moravetz.  On January 31, 2019, Trish Ann Moravetz (age 43) of Lynn, MN, also known as Tricia Moravetz and Trish Behnke, appeared before U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier and pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance.  Beginning at a date unknown and continuing through March 21, 2018, Moravetz knowingly and intentionally combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed with others to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 22, 2019.

Nicholas Michael Snowden.  On January 31, 2019, Nicholas Michael Snowden (age 40) of Sioux Falls, SD, appeared before U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier and pleaded guilty to an Indictment that charged him with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  The maximum penalty upon conviction is life in federal prison, and/or a $10,000,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release.  Snowden’s sentencing before Judge Schreier is scheduled for April 22, 2019.

April Villagomez.  On January 31, 2019, April Villagomez (age 38) of Yankton, SD, appeared before U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier and pleaded guilty to an Indictment that charged her with Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine).  The maximum penalty upon conviction is 40 years in federal prison and/or a $5,000,000 fine, and a lifetime of supervised release. Villagomez’s sentencing before Judge Schreier is scheduled for April 22, 2019.

FEDERAL PRISON SENTENCES

Meloni Ann Old Lodge.  On December 10, 2018, Meloni Old Lodge (age 43) of a Mission, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange to 7 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Old Lodge was convicted on January 5, 2018, of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance.  Old Lodge admitted that beginning in September of 2015, she received distributable quantities of methamphetamine and distributed it in South Dakota.  The individuals who provided the methamphetamine to her knew she intended to engage in further distribution of it. 

Sherie Roxanne Mitchell. On December 21, 2018, Sherie Roxanne Mitchell (age 35) of St. Louis, MO, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  During her involvement in the conspiracy, which ran from an unknown date to on or about September 5, 2017, Mitchell connected her co-conspirator with heroin customers in South Dakota.

Shania Rose Hofer.  On January 4, 2019, Shania Rose Hofer (age 21) of Sioux Falls, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release.  Hofer was convicted of Distribution of a Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury on October 22, 2018.  On or about April 23, 2018, Hofer knowingly and intentionally distributed a mixture and substance containing heroin to an individual in Sioux Falls.  Later that day, the person used the heroin sold by Hofer and was found unconscious.  First responders were unable to detect the victim’s pulse and observed that he was not breathing.  They began to perform CPR and administered two doses of Narcan before he was revived.  While at the scene, law enforcement collected a syringe found next to the victim that tested positive for both heroin and fentanyl.  But for the heroin provided by Hofer, the victim would not have stopped breathing.

Angela Martin a/k/a Angela Bald Eagle, a/k/a Angela Ice.  On January 7, 2019, Angela Martin (age 39) of Rapid City, SD, who was previously convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine), was sentenced by Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken to 10 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release.   The conviction stems from an incident beginning on or about March 2015 and ending on or about December 2016, when the Defendant knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to obtain methamphetamine and distribute it in South Dakota. 

Andy Ontiveros.  On January 14, 2019, Andy Ontiveros (age 39) of Minneapolis, MN, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 12 ½ years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release.  He was convicted on October 16, 2018, of Possession with Intent to Distribute 400 grams or more of a substance containing fentanyl.  On or about May 28, 2018, Ontiveros was inside his parked vehicle on the shoulder of I-29 in Minnehaha County, SD.  A Deputy with the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office approached and requested assistance from the South Dakota Highway Patrol.  Ontiveros gave consent for the officers to search the vehicle.  The search uncovered 264 grams of heroin and 993 grams of fentanyl hidden inside the vehicle.  Ontiveros admitted that he intended to distribute the substances both in South Dakota and elsewhere.

Amy Lynn Crandall. On January 22, 2019, Amy Lynn Crandall (age 27) of Sioux Falls, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 10 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release.  Crandall was previously convicted of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine.  Beginning on an unknown date and continuing until on or about May 8, 2018, Crandall provided methamphetamine for other co-conspirators to distribute in Sioux Falls and elsewhere.

Cory Poelstra.  On January 28, 2019, Cory Poelstra (age 29) of Yankton, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 10 years and one month in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  On October 19, 2017, a search warrant was executed at Poelstra’s residence in Yankton.  Inside the house, law enforcement discovered and seized two firearms, approximately 660 fentanyl pills, approximately 112 grams of cocaine, approximately .54 grams of heroin, approximately 27 grams of marijuana wax, approximately 2.8 kilos of marijuana, approximately 36.9 grams of hash, 4 MDMA pills, 4 pills containing methamphetamine, and $86,019 in cash.  Law enforcement officers also located hundreds of empty U.S. Mail parcels, and several empty UPS and Fed Ex packages that had been used to send controlled substances to Poelstra.  Officers later recovered $460,200 in cash stashed by Poelstra.

Jose Angel Ramirez-Villegas.  On January 29, 2019, Jose Angel Ramirez-Villegas (age 25) a Mexican national living in Volga, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 10 years and one month in federal prison, followed by 4 years of supervised release.  Ramirez-Villegas was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance on October 18, 2018.  Ramirez-Villegas twice sold methamphetamine to a cooperating individual in May, 2018, totaling four ounces.  On June 8, 2018, law enforcement stopped his vehicle to arrest him on outstanding warrants.  Law enforcement located $7,520 in Ramirez’s front pants pocket, of which $2,900 was drug buy funds used during one of the May controlled purchases of methamphetamine.

Paul Alan Sandersfeld.  On February 1, 2019, Paul Alan Sandersfeld (age 39) of Sioux Falls, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 4 years of supervised release.  Sandersfeld was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance (methamphetamine) on August 20, 2018.  Officers had seized over 180 grams of methamphetamine and $13,530 in cash.  Sandersfeld purchased it from others and sold it in the Sioux Falls area.

Devlin Tommeraasen.  On February 1, 2019, Devlin Tommeraasen (age 24) of Sioux Falls, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 10 years in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Tommeraasen was convicted of conspiracy to distribute heroin.  The heroin was laced with fentanyl.  Tommeraasen sold the drugs that led to the death of another person.

John Edward Monette.  On February 1, 2019, John Edward Monette (age 50) of Sioux Falls, SD, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier to 5 years in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Monette was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance on November 15, 2018.  On April 25, 2018, a federal search warrant was executed on Monette’s residence.  Law enforcement officers seized approximately 838 grams of MDMA, numerous ecstasy pills, approximately 69 grams of cocaine, drug packaging, scales, shipping materials, computers, cell phones, and a rifle.  Also seized were 3.3882104 Bitcoin (approximate value $32,464.38) from a Mycelium wallet on Monette’s cell phone.  Monette had been buying MDMA and other controlled substances from sellers in Europe and elsewhere via the Dark Web.  He used Bitcoin to pay his suppliers, and received the drugs via mail.  He also used the mail to deliver drugs to his customers.

Drug trafficking is an inherently violent activity.  Firearms are tools of the trade for drug dealers.  It is common to find drug traffickers armed with guns in order to protect their illegal drug product and cash, and enforce their illegal operations.

Many of these cases are part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and local communities to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

The cases listed above are being investigated by the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force, Northern Plains Safe Trails Drug Enforcement Task Force based in both Rapid City and Pierre, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team (UNET), U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services OIG/OI, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), South Dakota Highway Patrol, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Sioux Falls Police Department, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Rapid City Police Department, Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services, Yankton Police Department, Pierre Police Department, Mobridge Police Department, and the South Dakota National Guard.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Haak, Jennifer Mammenga, Meghan Dilges, Tamara Nash, Benjamin Patterson, Kathryn Rich, Michael Elmore, Cameron Cook, and Gina Nelson are prosecuting the cases.

SIOUX FALLS, SD – United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that John Edward Monette, 49, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has been indicted as part of a national undercover operation targeting Darknet vendors.  Monette was indicted on May 8, 2018, for Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance. 

The Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced the results of a year-long, coordinated national operation that used the first nationwide undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the Darknet. Special Agents of the HSI New York Field Division, in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, posed as a money launderer on Darknet market sites, exchanging U.S. currency for virtual currency.  Through this operation, HSI New York was able to identify numerous vendors of illicit goods, leading to the opening of more than 90 active cases around the country.  The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, working with more than 40 U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, coordinated the nationwide investigation of over 65 targets, that lead to the arrest and impending prosecution of more than 35 Darknet vendors.

John Edward Monette was identified by HSI New York during an undercover operation as having exchanged Bitcoin for cash on numerous occasions. Between May 31, 2017, and October 24, 2017, HSI New York conducted 11 undercover Bitcoin for U.S. currency transactions with Monette that totaled $19,000.  Monette was also identified as the intended recipient of numerous international mail seizures containing MDMA.

MDMA (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetimine, also known as ecstasy) is an illegal synthetic drug that causes both hallucinogenic and stimulant effects.  Most MDMA users are teenagers or young adults.  MDMA is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I substances, which include heroin and LSD, have a high potential for abuse and serve no legitimate medical purpose.

“Criminals believing that their illicit activities on the so-called Darknet will elude the attention of law enforcement had better think again,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “This operation is just the beginning.”

This extensive Darknet operation, which culminated in four weeks of more than 100 enforcement actions around the country, resulted in the following:

Federal arrests of more than 35 Darknet vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods;

Execution of 70 search warrants, resulting in the seizure of massive amounts of illegal narcotics, including 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, over 100,000 tramadol pills, 100 grams of fentanyl, more than 24 kilograms of Xanax, and additional seizures of Oxycodone, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, and a psychedelic mushroom grow found in a residence;

Seizure of more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher;

Seizure of five vehicles that were purchased with illicit proceeds and/or used to facilitate criminal activity;

Seizure of more than $3.6 million in U.S. currency and gold bars;

Seizure of nearly 2,000 Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, with an approximate value of more than $20 million;

Confiscation of 15 pill presses, which are used to create illegal synthetic opioids; and

Seizure of Bitcoin mining devices, computer equipment, and vacuum sealers.

 

In addition to Monette, others who have been charged federally, include:

Antonio Tirado, 26, and Jeffrey Morales, 32, of the Bronx, New York, were arrested on June 18, and separately charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York with distribution and possession with intent to distribute narcotics, including cocaine, LSD (also known as “acid”), marijuana, and hashish oil.  Additionally, Tirado was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of his drug trafficking offenses.  Following an investigation into a Darknet marketplace vendor using the moniker “Trapgod,” investigators executed search warrants at homes in two residential neighborhoods in the Bronx leading to Tirado and Morales.  As alleged in the complaints, during the execution of the search warrants at the Tirado and Morales residences, agents seized controlled substances including powder cocaine, marijuana, and LSD, as well as various precursor powders, liquids, and reagents, and other narcotics-related paraphernalia including marijuana growing equipment, a home chemistry lab, scales, and heat sealing packaging materials.  In Tirado’s home, agents recovered a fully loaded shotgun alongside a narcotics stash.  Investigators in Tirado’s apartment recovered additional evidence of Darknet narcotics distribution, such as numerous U.S. Postal Service shipping boxes, already addressed to customers around the United States, which boxes contained hairbrushes some of which had already been packed with powder cocaine for distribution.

Jian Qu, 30; Raymond Weng, 24; and Kai Wu, 22, all of Queens, New York, along with Dimitri Tseperkas, 22, and Cihad Akkaya, 22, of Middle Island and Port Jefferson, New York, respectively, were each arrested on June 18, and charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York with participation in a conspiracy to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.  Tseperkas and Akkaya were also charged with firearms offenses relating to the drug conspiracy.  Investigators monitoring Darknet marketplaces found accounts used by some of the conspirators, leading agents to execute search warrants at three addresses in residential communities in Flushing and Mt. Sinai, New York.  From the residences, agents recovered approximately $400,000 in U.S. currency, 140 kilograms of suspected marijuana and an additional 10 kilograms of suspected marijuana vape cartridges, 12 kilograms of suspected Xanax pills, over half a kilogram of suspected ecstasy, four pill presses, mixers, and pill press parts, over a dozen kilograms of various powders, packaging materials, and paraphernalia.   While searching the residence where Akkaya and Tseperkas were found, investigators recovered three loaded shotguns, including a tactical double-barreled shotgun loaded with 14 shells, and over 50 shotgun shells, as well as significant quantities of narcotics, packaging materials, and paraphernalia including a money-counting machine.  Review of electronic evidence recovered from the residences proved the conspirators’ connections to Darknet marketplaces, use of cryptocurrency, and narcotics distribution schemes.

Ryan Farace, 34, of Reisterstown, Maryland, and Robert Swain, 34, of Freeland, Maryland, were charged by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland related to a scheme to manufacture and distribute alprazolam tablets, which are typically sold under the brand name “Xanax.”  The indictment alleges that Farace distributed the drugs through sales on the dark web in exchange for Bitcoin, and that Farace and Swain laundered the drug proceeds through financial transactions designed to conceal the source and ownership of the illegal funds.   To date, law enforcement has seized various crypto currency, to include bitcoin, valued at over $22 million at the time of the seizures, and over $1.5 million in cash, which was seized from Farace’s residence upon the execution of a search warrant on Jan. 18.  As part of the indictment, the government seeks the forfeiture of no less than $5.665 million, plus the value of 4,000 Bitcoin believed to be the proceeds of the illegal drug sales, two residences, and a vehicle used to facilitate the drug distribution.

Nicholas J. Powell, 32, and Michael Gonzalez, 27, former and current residents of Parma, Ohio, respectively, were charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and laundering money using the dark web.  The complaint alleges that Powell used various monikers on Darknet marketplaces as part of his criminal scheme, including “TheSource,” “BonnienClyde,” BnC,” “BCPHARMA,” and “Money TS.”  The conspiracy operated on multiple Darknet marketplaces, including Silk Road 2, AlphaBay, and HANSA.  The conspiracy involved distributing Xanax, steroids, marijuana and other drugs across the country using these and other Darknet monikers.  Powell and Gonzalez would then launder the funds as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium, and Komodo through individuals specializing in money laundering on Darknet marketplaces.  At the time of arrest, law enforcement had already seized approximately $437,000 in cryptocurrencies from Powell.

Jose Robert Porras III, 21, and Pasia Vue, 23, both of Sacramento, were charged with drug distribution, money laundering, and illegally possessing firearms, in a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury in the Eastern District of California. According to the indictment, Porras and Vue were using the online monikers “Cannabars” and “TheFastPlug,” to distribute marijuana, Xanax, and methamphetamine on various dark web marketplaces, including Trade Route, Wall Street Market, and Dream Marketplace.  Porras and Vue then laundered the Bitcoin proceeds of their drug distribution through the HSI undercover agent located in New York.  After receiving the Bitcoin from Porras and Vue, the undercover agent mailed parcels of cash to them in Sacramento. HSI and USPIS agents seized nine weapons including an AK-47 magazine and ammunition, 30 pounds of marijuana, $10,000 in U.S. currency, a vehicle, and over 100 bars of Xanax.

Sam Bent, 32, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont (and formerly of East Burke, Vermont), and his cousin, Djeneba Bent, 26, also of St. Johnsbury (and formerly East Burke) were charged with conspiracy to distribute LSD, MDMA (also known as “ecstasy”), cocaine, and marijuana in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the District of Vermont.  The indictment alleges that the conspiracy involved setting up accounts on dark web marketplaces, establishing online identities, accepting Bitcoin in exchange for sales over the dark web, and mailing controlled substances from several different post offices in Northeastern Vermont and Northwestern New Hampshire in an effort to avoid detection.   The indictment also charges Sam Bent with four counts of money laundering involving three different exchanges of bitcoin drug distribution proceeds for U.S. currency. 

In Fresno, California, a federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment on May 17, against Daniel Boyd McMonegal, 35, of San Luis Obispo and Mariposa, California, charging him with drug distribution and money laundering in the Eastern District of California.  According to the indictment, McMonegal, using the online monikers “Sawgrass,” “Ross4Less,” and “ChristmasTree,” distributed marijuana on various dark web marketplaces, including Dream Market.  McMonegal was also the owner of a marijuana delivery service in San Luis Obispo called West Coast Organix, which claimed to be a non-profit medical marijuana cooperative.  McMonegal then laundered the Bitcoin proceeds of his drug distribution through an undercover agent located in New York.  After receiving the Bitcoin from McMonegal, the undercover agent mailed parcels of cash to McMonegal in San Luis Obispo and Mariposa.

More than 50 Darknet vendor accounts were identified and attributed to the real individuals selling illicit goods on Darknet market sites such as Silk Road, AlphaBay, Hansa, Dream, and others. HSI-New York Field Division and MLARS coordinated with law enforcement and federal prosecutors to investigate 65 targets identified by the undercover operation in more than 50 Federal districts, including: the District of Arizona, the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Western District of Arkansas, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of California, the Northern District of California, the Southern District of California, the District of Colorado, the District of Connecticut, the Middle District of Florida, the Northern District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Iowa, the District of Kansas, the District of Maryland, the Eastern District of Michigan, the District of Minnesota, the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Western District of North Carolina, the District of New Hampshire, the Northern District of New York, the Southern District of New York, the Western District of New York, the District of North Dakota, the Northern District of Ohio, the Southern District of Ohio, the District of Oregon, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the District of South Carolina, the District of South Dakota, the Eastern District of Texas, the Northern District of Texas, the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the Eastern District of Virginia, the District of Vermont, the Eastern District of Washington, and the Western District of Washington.  FBI was part of the investigative team in the Northern District of California.   

The investigation is ongoing.

The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations and defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

Docket (0 Docs):   https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xwMKr1KIgNVQ7H92IdH6bLLZOLJEXf5k5jInpxH-EFc/edit#gid=0
  Last Updated: 2019-10-14 20:08:26 UTC
Description: The fiscal year of the data file obtained from the AOUSC
Format: YYYY

Description: The code of the federal judicial circuit where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the federal judicial district where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the district office where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: Docket number assigned by the district to the case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which cannot be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which can be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A sequential number indicating whether a case is an original proceeding or a reopen
Format: N5

Description: Case type associated with the current defendant record
Format: A2

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, defendant number, and reopen sequence number
Format: A18

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, and reopen sequence number
Format: A15

Description: The status of the defendant as assigned by the AOUSC
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the fugitive status of a defendant
Format: A1

Description: The date upon which a defendant became a fugitive
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which a fugitive defendant was taken into custody
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date when a case was first docketed in the district court
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which proceedings in a case commenced on charges pending in the district court where the defendant appeared, or the date of the defendant’s felony-waiver of indictment
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code used to identify the nature of the proceeding
Format: N2

Description: The date when a defendant first appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code indicating the event by which a defendant appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the type of legal counsel assigned to a defendant
Format: N2

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE1
Format: A3

Description: The FIPS code used to indicate the county or parish where an offense was committed
Format: A5

Description: The date of the last action taken on the record
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which judicial proceedings before the court concluded
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the final sentence is recorded on the docket
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the case was closed
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The total fine imposed at sentencing for all offenses of which the defendant was convicted and a fine was imposed
Format: N8

Description: A count of defendants filed including inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed excluding inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings commenced
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated including interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated excluding interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings terminated
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period including long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period excluding long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: The source from which the data were loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: A10

Description: A sequential number indicating the iteration of the defendant record
Format: N2

Description: The date the record was loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: Statistical year ID label on data file obtained from the AOUSC which represents termination year
Format: YYYY

Data imported from FJC Integrated Database
F U C K I N G P E D O S R E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E