Monday, March 27, 2017

Former Silk Road 2.0 Buyer Sentenced to Prison

On March 13, acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced that Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker sentenced a Michigan man to prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Michael Carlton Paiva, the defendant, bought significant quantities of drugs from vendors on the Silk Road 2.0. The feds watched him until 2017 when they gathered enough evidence to send Paiva to prison for 30 months.

During the “international law enforcement operation” that brought down the second iteration of the Silk Road, police spotted Paiva. He purchased amphetamines, substituted phenethylamines, tryptamines, and lysergamides in quantities too great for personal use. Law enforcement identified the 30-year-old as a distributor in the Western District of Michigan.

Between 2013 and 2016, Paiva converted cash into Bitcoin and purchased the following drugs from various vendors both on and off the Silk Road 2.0. He bought MDMA, mescaline, LSD, AL-LAD, DMT, DOM, 25i-NBOMe, and liquid mushrooms. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Michigan said that Paiva sold heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. They distinguished the three aforementioned drugs from the darknet list, but never clarified where he purchased them.

“The federal government has the tools, resources, and commitment to identify and prosecute criminals on the dark web and will continue to do so,” Acting U.S. Attorney Birge said. “Drug traffickers who believe that the dark web and cryptocurrency will provide anonymity and shield them from the rule of law are sorely mistaken.”

Homeland Security Investigations of Grand Rapids and The West Michigan Enforcement Team led the investigation into Paiva.

“Homeland Security Investigations and our partners are at the tip of the spear in the effort against illicit activities and financial crimes associated with virtual currency systems,” Steve Francis, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Detroit said. “Criminals have the false impression that their black markets activity using digital currency like Bitcoin are avoiding scrutiny. The reality is that these activities do not escape the reach of law enforcement.”

Interestingly, federal law enforcement listed AL-LAD as a drug man purchased on the darknet. The LSD analog is unscheduled and technically legal, according to the DEA. The synthesis of AL-LAD requires LSD as a base so the connection between AL-LAD and the US analog law may be an easy one for the prosecution to draw.

“The West Michigan Enforcement Team, HSI Grand Rapids, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have a long history of collaboration and this case is another great example of that relationship,” said Detective First Lieutenant Andy Fias, WEMET Section Commander. “We value this partnership and it was successful in this investigation and others in the past. The disruption of this drug trafficking organization will have a deep impact on several West Michigan communities.”