Tacoma Resident Imprisoned for Selling Drugs via the Darknet
A 31-year-old male from Tacoma, Washington, was recently arrested by authorities for trafficking drugs via the dark web, as stated by the U.S. Office of the Attorney. Travis Phillips was identified by the Dutch National Police as a drug trafficker in April 2017, following which further investigations were focused on him.
Their efforts began when they discovered Phillips was planning to move some drugs across borders from Europe to the United States. They then informed the U.S. authorities of the shipment, stating that 7,000 pills of MDMA were to be delivered to a privately-owned mail service in Renton, Washington.
Following receipt of this information, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service carried out investigations, after which they intercepted the package at the mail center just before Phillips picked it up. As a precautionary measure, they removed the drugs from their packaging, so only the empty box would be delivered.
Later in May, Phillips unsuspectingly picked up the consignment from the mail facility and drove off; he had a child with him in his car. Officials noted that the shipment was signed under a fake name to mask Phillips’ real identity.
Law enforcement followed Phillips to his home where they found him unloading the package from his car and placing it in his house. An authorized search was carried out in his house and car without any resistance from Phillips.
The search revealed a little more than 8600 tablets of MDMA, numerous psychedelic mushrooms, 155 doses of LSD, and counterfeit IDs. Two weapons were also discovered – a rifle and a semi-automatic handgun.
This was not the first time that Phillips found himself in trouble with the law, as he had earlier been prosecuted for drug dealing over the internet in California in 2016. He confessed to the crime and was sentenced to jail in May last year.
Phillips, however, continued his drug business after he was released from prison. His latest crime also landed him in court; U.S. District Judge Richard Jones handled his case.
He was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Silvio. Silvio works with Homeland Security Investigations, and he specializes in prosecuting international drug trafficking cases such as Phillips’ in a federal court of law.
While in court, Judge Jones heavily reprimanded Phillips for his actions, especially as most of his customers were young people. Jones stated that every time Phillips sold MDMA to the young generation, he greatly contributed to the destruction of their lives.
In addition, having firearms in his possession indicated that he was fearful someone might come after him, including the authorities, and he had to be ready to react. He was also holding firearms without legal certification, contrary to the law.
Another U.S. Attorney, Annette L. Hayes, stated that the dark web had become a new frontier for drug dealing, especially for those who want to avoid the potential dangers and inconveniences that are associated with direct involvement with the procuring party. This has led to an increase in the number of drug users, especially young people, most of whom suffer from drug addiction.
Hayes announced that Phillips would serve four years in prison on account of illegal possession and distribution of illicit drugs and the illegal holding of firearms. He will also have an additional three years of supervised release, during which he will be closely monitored to prevent his relapsing behavior of drug trafficking.
She has warned such dealers that the darknet will not shield them forever. She further adds that authorities will make efforts to catch dealers and bring them to justice, just like any other drug peddlers in the community.
This is one case among many other similar cases of drug vendors selling their products via the dark web and using mail services to deliver them. Law enforcers warn of the hefty bails and long imprisonment terms awaiting such offenders.
Postal service officials have also increased their surveillance of items being delivered via both public and private mail organizations since mail has become a popular way to ship drugs because of the reduced scrutiny of items. In this way, mail services have ended up serving as drug delivery services without their knowledge.