A Jamaican citizen, who was living in the United States, was sentenced to prison for drug trafficking on the darknet.
Chrissano Leslie, a 26-year-old from Miramar, Florida, was standing trial at a federal court for charges of drug-dealing, money-laundering conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft. After law enforcement authorities arrested the man at his home, he pleaded guilty to the four federal charges. He admitted he used a variety of online aliases – including “owlcity” – when he traded on several marketplaces on the darknet. He also admitted that he sold a wide variety of drugs, including anti-anxiety pills, fentanyl, “China White” heroin, cocaine and flakka.
According to the court documents, the defendant had a 98 percent positive feedback on his dark web vendor profile. Investigators claimed that the suspect received good reviews from his customers since he committed much to the customer support side of his business. The investigation showed that the darknet vendor was shipping the narcotics to his customer via USPS priority mail. Everything went well until a customer complained that he or she never received his package. When Leslie heard about that he logged onto the tracking service of the USPS to check the whereabouts of the parcel. However, DEA agents noticed his action, and traced down the computer he used, locating the suspect. According to the prosecution, investigators were able to prove that someone had used a computer in his Miramar home to check the location of a package containing narcotics. Law enforcement authorities were on the trail of the defendant for months. Police records show that some of the customers of the darknet vendor were undercover DEA agents, who purchased drugs from the defendant. Agents later placed a new order and secretly followed Leslie to a Hollywood post office where he shipped their order and four other packages that contained narcotics for other customers, according to the court documents. From there on, investigators had enough evidence to issue a warrant on his home address, where they arrested Leslie. In the defendant’s house, law enforcement authorities found a transaction log that Leslie kept at his home. And though the log showed Leslie was involved in about 1,000 transactions, the defense said most of those deals were for very small amounts of drugs – a total of about three pounds of illegal substances and 1,100 pills sold over several years.
“It’s an incredibly difficult thing to police because anybody with access to a computer and a mailbox can become a drug dealer,” Prosecutor Frank Maderal said in a statement recommending a five year and three months sentence for the defendant. He said customers who might be afraid to buy drugs on a real street corner may feel less intimidated about buying online.
Law enforcement authorities were able to determine how much drugs Leslie sold to his customers from the transaction list. Sentencing guidelines, based on the offenses and the amount of narcotics involved, recommended a sentence between seven years and three months and 8.5 years in federal prison for the suspect. However, Leslie’s attorney Robert Trachman argued that it would be “overly harsh” to lock up Leslie for that long. He suggested four years in prison for his client.
Numerous friends and family members of the defendant were present in the court trial to support Leslie. Many of them, including his mother and his wife, told Judge Hurley that Leslie was a “hard-working and very intelligent young man who made a bad mistake”. The defendant told the judge that he felt “very ashamed” that he had “used his intelligence and directed his energies into criminal activities.”
Leslie, a Jamaican citizen who lived in South Florida most of his life, said during the court trial that he lost his work permit and green card after he was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana, which he tried to smuggle to Jamaica to care for his grandfather. He said he decided to sell narcotics online since he thought it was “either [do] that or starve.”
“I’m confident that the next chapter in my life will be a better one,” Leslie told the judge, asking for mercy.
Both Judge Hurley and the prosecutor said that they were struck by Leslie’s comments and his family’s support but had to “temper that with the seriousness of the offense”. The judge said that since the ongoing “extraordinary increase” in heroin and fentanyl addiction in the country, which Leslie supported by selling such substances, and the accompanying problems of overdoses, he has to give a harsher sentence to the defendant.
Judge Hurley sentenced Leslie to five years and 10 months in federal prison and warned him there is a high likelihood that immigration authorities will deport him after he had served his punishment.