SF man sentenced to ten years for distributing drugs on the ‘dark web’

More than 30 suspects were arrested in 2018 targeting vendors of illegal goods on the darknet.

A 27-year-old San Francisco man was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for distributing illegal drugs via a dark web vendor site, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Brian Gutierrez-Villasenor was one of more than 30 suspects across the country arrested in a 2018 investigation targeting vendors of illegal goods on the so-called “darknet” — a hidden network where illicit deals take place.

Gutierrez-Villasenor distributed cocaine and methamphetamine for the darknet web site JetSetLife, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons.

JetSetLife would wire Gutierrez-Villasenor money from abroad to fill orders for drugs and after buying the requested drugs he would mail them through the U.S. Postal Service, authorities said.

For example, on March 23, 2015, someone in Australia sent Gutierrez-Villasenor a $5,160 wire transfer via JetSetLife.

Gutierrez-Villasenor retrieved the cash, used it to buy drugs and pay himself for distributing the drugs. Gutierrez-Villasenor admitted that between October 2014 and April 2018, he received over $575,000 to distribute drugs for JetSetLife.

On Sept. 17, Gutierrez-Villasenor was charged with one count of possessing with intent to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine, and one count of transporting monetary instruments or funds to promote unlawful activity.

Gutierrez-Villasenor pleaded guilty to the charges on Nov. 13. The 10-year sentence was handed down Friday by U.S. Senior District Judge Susan Illston in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Illston also ordered Gutierrez-Villasenor to pay a $40,000 fine and to serve an additional five-year term of supervised release to begin after his prison term.

Gutierrez-Villasenor has been in custody since his arrest on May 17, 2018, and will begin serving his sentence immediately.

JetSetLife operated on multiple darknet marketplaces and used encryption technology to avoid interception and monitoring of its communications and transactions, authorities said. The prosecution of Gutierrez-Villasenor and others was the result of a coordinated national operation that used the first nationwide undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the darknet, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The operation, which culminated in four weeks of more than 100 enforcement actions around the country, resulted in the federal arrests of more than 30 darknet vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods.

Agents executed 70 search warrants during the operation, seizing massive amounts of illegal narcotics, including 333 bottles of liquid synthetic opioids, over 100,000 tramadol pills, 100 grams of fentanyl, 24 kilograms of Xanax, and additional seizures of Oxycodone, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, marijuana, and a psychedelic mushroom grow found in a residence; In addition, more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher, were seized.

The investigation was carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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