According to United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler of the Southern District of Indiana, the supplier of a nationwide drug distribution ring will spend the next 15 years in prison. Pierre Burnett, Jr., aka “Doe,” the owner of “Epic Ultra Lounge,” pleaded guilty to the charges in a four count grand jury indictment from 2016. The indictment accused Doe of conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin distribution, cocaine, distribution, and money laundering conspiracy.
His sentencing came as a result of an intrusive investigation into Indianapolis area drug dealers. Doe, according to the press release, distributed a grand total of 37 pounds of heroin and 55 pounds of cocaine. He purchased the drugs from contacts in Mexico who received payment via couriers. These couriers met with Doe after an exchange in order to receive payment—bags filled with cash.
The investigation, according to the narrative provided by the federal government, began during the Silk Road. Federal agencies looked into a man from Indiana that had landed on the United States Postal Inspection Service’s radar for drug trafficking. USPIS agents flagged his mail, and thereby allowed the DEA to fully investigate. The DEA and IRS identified Lee Gray, the USPIS suspect, as a Black Bank and Silk Road vendor.
Gray aka “Supremesmoke” sold heroin and used multiple bank accounts under various names to accept payment. The IRS agents, as with IRS agents in effectively any law enforcement investigation, followed the money trail from Gray’s vendor account to a Bitcoin exchange. From there he deposited money into several bank accounts. And he used some of the money to purchase heroin from Doe.
USPIS involvement has become a usual element of darknet investigations. At one point, though, such investigations were new and USPIS agents believed the use of the mail system “violated the sanctity of the seal,” according to E.C. Woodson, Postal Inspector in Charge:
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service takes very seriously its mission to deter the illegal use of the mails for any criminal activity and […] to identify, investigate and bring to justice those who would attempt to mask their criminal activity through the use of the mail thereby violating the sanctity of the seal.”
Federal law enforcement caught another heroin dealer: Alan Duncan aka Al Gore. Duncan sold out of Southern Ohio. He too bought from Doe. Duncan is currently serving 12 years in prison and Gray is awaiting sentencing. The investigation into those two men led directly to the arrest of Burnett (Doe). Burnett, working as the supplier for several drug dealers in the area, received a 15 year sentence—only three years more than Duncan.
“Gone are the days when criminals could cloak their drug trafficking activity behind the anonymity of the Dark Web,” the US attorney said. “Our office is committed to ferreting out and prosecuting individuals engaged in cybercrime in all its many forms.”
All law enforcement agencies involved gave statements. Unsurprisingly, the statements matched—down to the letter—the statements given in other darknet cases. They all boiled down to “we will get you; you have nowhere to hide now.”