A 35-year-old man from Georgia was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy of drug trafficking. The man allegedly ordered fentanyl for resale over the dark web and had the fentanyl delivered via mail. DEA agents arrested him outside of a post office after his attempt of retrieving a fentanyl package failed. After the arrest, he was placed under electronically monitored release, whose terms he broke and was thus placed in federal custody throughout the trial period.
According to an announcement by U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray, 35-year-old Marcus Lenard Armstrong from McDonough, Georgia, had been purchasing fentanyl over the dark web using bitcoin since November 2016. After making the purchase, Armstrong had the drugs delivered to a residence in Charlotte. On delivery, Armstrong would collect the packages and then resell the drugs. Armstrong continued with this cycle until his arrest on June 30, 2017.
According to court records, Armstrong’s arrest stemmed from the interception of one of his packages by the DEA. A postal inspector notified the police of the suspicious packages, and the police immediately initiated an investigation into the matter. On June 30, 2017, the police visited a residence in Charlotte to which one of Armstrong’s packages had just been delivered. The police questioned the owner of the home who disclosed that he received the packages on behalf of Armstrong, who was a ‘family friend.’ The police seized the package and took it to the police station for inspection; after opening it, the police found a little over 1,003 grams of fentanyl.
Later that day, Armstrong, who had been expecting the package to be delivered, visited the post office to inquire about its delivery. Armstrong’s interest in the seized package attracted the attention of a postal inspector who approached Armstrong and started asking him more about the package. The questions raised by the postal inspector made Armstrong suspicious, and in turn, he attacked the inspector and attempted to run. The DEA agents arrested him outside the post office as he tried to escape.
After the arrest, Armstrong was placed in police custody for questioning. On being questioned, Armstrong disclosed that he had been purchasing the fentanyl from different dark web marketplaces using bitcoin. The names of the dark web marketplaces used by Armstrong were not revealed. Armstrong then told the cops that he was expecting two more packages to be delivered to the same address.
After cooperating with the police during the interview, Armstrong was placed under electronic monitoring release. After some time, Armstrong broke the terms of the release by cutting off the ankle transmitter in attempt to hide from the police and escape. His escape attempt failed as he was arrested soon after the incidence and placed in federal custody. Armstrong later entered a guilty plea in April 2018; he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to drug trafficking.
On January 31, months after entering the guilty plea, Armstrong was imprisoned for ten years followed by three years of supervised release. While announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Murray said that his office had prioritized the fight against the opioid crisis and would ensure all involved are investigated and prosecuted. He warned that anyone who tries to use the dark web to avoid detection by law enforcement will meet the same fate as Armstrong.
On behalf of the DEA, Special Agent Robert J. Murphy in charge of Atlanta’s field office said that Armstrong deserved the lengthy sentence handed to him. He also reminded dark web users that the DEA would partner with other law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure all offenders are punished.
David M. McGinnis, the U.S. Postal Inspector in charge of the Charlotte Division, insisted that the postal service had no interest in aiding drug traffickers that use the U.S. mail to deliver drugs. He also said that postal inspectors are committed to their role of stopping drug trafficking through the mail and, in the process, provide a conducive environment for postal service employees and U.S. citizens in general. McGinnis finished his statement by saying that Armstrong’s sentencing is enough proof to dark web drug dealers that the Postal Service will continue to work with other agencies in the fight against drug trafficking.
At the end of the announcement, U.S. Attorney Murray reserved special thanks for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the DEA, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police for their role in the investigation that resulted in the arrest and eventual conviction of Armstrong.