Salisbury man sentenced to five years in federal prison for large-scale heroin distribution operation on the Dark Web | USAO-MD

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BaltimoreMaryland – U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake today sentenced Jason Lawrence Green, 40, of Salisbury, Maryland, to five years in federal prison, followed by three years of probation, for possession with intent to distribute heroin, which he sold on the dark web, which is part of the internet that can only be accessed using specific software that conceals the true location and identity of computers using the software to communicate.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Acting Postal Inspector in Charge Greg L. Torbenson of the United States Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; Col. Adrian Baker, superintendent of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police; Col. Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of Maryland State Police; and Dorchester County Sheriff James W. Phillips, Jr.

According to Green’s guilty plea, from at least 2018 to October 2019, Green used an apartment and storage unit in Salisbury, Maryland to sell and distribute heroin on the dark web and using encrypted messaging services.

As detailed in the plea agreement, Green initially operated under the name “CaliClaire” in the Dream Market, a dark online marketplace for controlled substances and other illegal products. After Dream Market closed in April 2019, Green sold heroin through encrypted messaging services under the usernames “CaliClaire” and “clairebear2”. Green sent the heroin to buyers nationwide using United States Mail (USPS).

For example, on June 20 and August 28, 2018, an undercover investigator purchased a gram of heroin from CaliClaire’s Dream Market vendor site for approximately $200 in bitcoin, a cryptocurrency. The next day, law enforcement watched Green as he drove a white BMW from his home to post offices in Ocean City, Maryland and Salisbury, respectively, and dropped packages into a mailbox. After the BMW left, investigators searched the mailbox and retrieved the package addressed to the address provided to CaliClaire by the undercover investigator. Each package contained one gram of a substance that tested positive for heroin. Investigators also recovered two additional packages that Green had placed in the Salisbury letterbox. After obtaining search warrants, investigators discovered that the packages contained 3.5 and 4.5 grams, respectively, of a tan-colored powdery substance that appeared to be heroin.

CaliClaire was inactive on Dream Market from September 7, 2018 to December 4, 2018 – the same time Green was in police custody after being arrested by Ocean City police on unrelated state charges. Green was released under electronic surveillance on December 4, 2018. Six days later, CaliClaire posted an update on Dream Market claiming that the seller had taken a “break” due to bitcoin’s loss of value, followed by another update on December 21. 2018 indicating that heroin would be available for purchase again from December 25, 2018. Dream Market was closed between January and April 2019.

In June and September 2019, law enforcement seized two USPS packages (later containing heroin) shipped to addresses in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Washington County, Oregon. Investigators contacted intended recipients and learned they were former CaliClaire customers on Dream Market. The Virginia recipient told investigators that CaliClaire had resumed selling heroin directly to customers under the username CaliClaire on encrypted messaging service A. Investigators learned from the Oregon customer that CaliClaire was also selling heroin directly to customers under the username username “clairebear2” on encrypted messaging service B.

As detailed in the plea agreement, in September and October 2019, investigators made two undercover purchases from clairebear2 on Encrypted Mail Service B, each time obtaining 2 grams of heroin for $300 in bitcoins. Investigators monitored Green after each undercover purchase. After the first purchase, investigators observed Green delivering packages to a drive-thru mailbox in Delaware. The mailbox where Green dropped off the package was searched and the package addressed to the undercover officer was found. It contained three grams of a substance that tested positive for heroin. After the second purchase, Green was seen accessing a storage unit he was renting and later that day dropping several packages into a mailbox in Berlin, Maryland. The package addressed to the undercover officer was handed over to investigators a few days later and contained a clear zip-top bag containing approximately 2.5 grams of a substance that field-tested positive for heroin.

Search warrants were executed at Green’s residence and storage unit on October 16, 2019. Law enforcement recovered a total of 77 grams of heroin; approximately 41 grams of cocaine; about five grams of MDA, a controlled substance often sold as “ecstasy”; approximately 33 grams of amphetamine; more than 1.4 kg of marijuana, with all but 48 grams packed in heat-sealed bags; 334 grams of cutting agent; and drug paraphernalia, including numerous digital scales, a money counter, and packaging materials. In addition, investigators seized six firearms, including a .40 caliber pistol that was reported stolen from a Federal Air Marshal Service officer; a level 3A body armor; ammunition; $13,796 in cash; direct mail materials; a laptop computer and several cell phones, including an iPhone.

A subsequent forensic analysis of Green’s iPhone found data about Green’s use of encrypted messaging service B and a mobile cryptocurrency storage app that showed that before the phone was seized , the wallet contained approximately 15.97 bitcoins, which at the time was worth approximately $130,000. Forensic analysis of the laptop revealed, among other things, internet searches linked to customer addresses; the names and addresses of approximately 56 people who appeared in the return or consignee addresses on packages seized during the investigation and found to contain heroin, including undercover purchases; email addresses for encrypted messaging services A and B; a password for encrypted messaging service B; USPS tracking numbers, including undercover packages; and approximately 44 PDF files containing USPS shipping labels from nearly all of the heroin packages seized during the investigation.

This case was prosecuted using the resources of the Black Market and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force (DMDCC). The DMDCC Task Force is a joint effort between the United States Attorney’s Office, HSI – Baltimore, United States Secret Service, United States Postal Inspection Service; the Food and Drug Administration, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Baltimore Police Department and Baltimore County Police Department, targeting the use of dark net markets and digital currencies to facilitate activities. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the use of the internet (both the clear net and the dark net) and digital currencies to facilitate, for example, the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics and firearms, computer technologies (including hacking tools), and personally identifiable information (PII). In response to this growing threat, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI, and their partners formed the DMDCC Task Force to facilitate closer collaboration among law enforcement partners fighting these crimes.

United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI, the United States Postal Inspection Service, Maryland State Police, and the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the ‘investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey J. Izant and Christopher M. Rigali, who prosecuted the case.

For more information about the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and the resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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