Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, III, sentenced a Raleigh man to more than six years in federal prison for producing alprazolam pills and selling them on the darknet.
According to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., Matthew Lee Yensan, 25, received a sentence of six years and six months in federal prison. After release, Yensan will spend another five years on federal supervision. Thanks to federal prison laws, federal prison institutions require inmates to serve only 85 percent of a sentence before release. If all goes according to plan, Yensan will spend significantly less than 78 months in prison.
The sentence followed Yensan’s January guilty plea to the following five charges:
- Distribution of Alprazolam (Though the Internet);
- Possession of Alprazolam with Intent to Distribute;
- Possession of Firearms while Committing a Drug Trafficking Crime;
- International Money Laundering;
- Engaging in a Monetary Transaction in Property Derived From Specified Unlawful Activity.
An investigation headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration led to the 23-year-old’s arrest in September 2017. “A DEA source of information (SOl) had given details about a man in Raleigh, Matt Yensan, that was mass producing Xanax on several pill presses and selling the pills on the darknet,” the Criminal Complaint explained. The DEA source told federal agents that he or she had helped Yensan move pill presses into a storage unit in Raleigh. The informant gave the DEA the storage unit’s name and address. The DEA source gave the information to the Charlotte North Carolina DEA Tactical Diversion investigator who, in turn, passed the information to agents in Raleigh.
Agents confirmed that Yensan lived at the address the informant had given them and that Yensan made trips to and from the storage facility. They did little else until the United States Postal Inspection Service intercepted a package addressed to “Y Vending” at Yensan’s home. A drug detection K-9 allegedly hit on the package. Four federal agents, an unknown number of local police, and a K-9 unit performed a test that—according to court documents—gave them probable cause to open the package. They set the package addressed to Yensan next to five empty packages. The drug dog only took interest in the package addressed to “Y Vending.” They opened the package and discovered three pounds of marijuana.
With the evidence they needed, federal agents executed a search warrant at both Yensan’s house and the storage unit under his fake name. During the house search, the agents found a Glock 27, a S&W .357, a Colt King Cobra (.357), and an MP-5. They found roughly 15 pounds of marijuana and several grams of hash. They found computers with Litecoin wallets and Trezor hardware wallets filled with Bitcoin. At the storage unit, agents found 80,000 “doses” of “Xanax,” a laptop, hundreds of USPS mailers, three electronic pill presses, and enough alprazolam powder to press 300,000 “dosage units” of Xanax.
In addition to the prison sentence and federal supervision, the judge called for a massive forfeiture of all the guns in Yensan’s possession, a Trezor wallet with 182 Bitcoin, 1,000 Litecoin stored electronically, more than $300,000 in cash, two jet skis, a jet ski trailer, a Chevrolet Corvette, a Chevrolet Colorado, and three electronic pill presses.