Sunday, April 9, 2017

Marijuana Trafficker Sentenced to 8 Years for Postal Robbery

Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, announced the sentencing of a North Carolina drug trafficker. He organized the shipping of 144 kilograms of marijuana from Arizona to North Carolina. Furthermore, the defendant—Dorian Dent Williams, a 25-year-old from Kernersville, North Carolina—robbed a USPS employee at gunpoint.

Over the years, DeepDotWeb covered countless drug trafficking cases. In the United States, darknet market vendors have used, almost exclusively, the United States Postal Service as a distribution medium. The United States Postal Inspection Service recently posted a job listing that asked for individuals in the IT field who knew their way around the darknet, Tor, and even Bitcoin. So, USPS’s involvement in this case lined up with their usual involvement in the vast majority of recent drug trafficking cases. Except that the defendant robbed a USPS employee on his delivery route.

Dorian Dent Williams, during a hearing in October, admitted that he ordered packages to residential addresses in Charlotte and High Point, North Carolina. According to the announcement, he arranged the shipment of 317 pounds (144 kilograms) from an unknown source in Arizona (not in a single shipment). This transpired between Novemb.er 2015 and January 2016.

Williams not only used pre-scoped houses as package recipients, he employed individuals for package retrieval. Many darknet marketplace frequenters—both routine customers and vendors who received their supply in bulk—scouted often unoccupied homes for a “clean” address. Years ago, this practice lost much of the initial appeal for small-time buyers. The risk often outweighed the potential anonymity provided. Most address-linked arrests, in the recent past, involved a lack of postage and fraudulent return addresses. A “return to sender” situation often occurred and an unsuspecting individual or company received a package of free drugs.

Some of the large vendors continued with the “hopefully unoccupied house” delivery method, though. Those with enough income to afford a lost pack or two. Others moved on to methods with fewer variables and moving parts. When an individual, especially a major seller, uses uninhabited homes for delivery, they often hire a modernized “drug mule” for the physical pickup. In a vendor’s ideal world, the paid labor would know very little, if anything, about their “employer.”Based on evidence the Department of Justice released, William unlikely worked with unknown mules.

On February 9, the potential consequences of this method became a reality for Williams. A mail carrier attempted a delivery of one of the Arizona-based packages. The mail carrier, a USPS employee named Greg Chavez, chose to leave a delivery notice on the door of the unknowing recipient. This is a standard but often ignored practice. When a package will not fit inside a mailbox and the homeowner is not available to answer the door, (USPS) carriers keep the package and leave a note instead of leaving the box or parcel by the doorstep. Exceptions to this rule exist and sometimes a postal employee drops off the package regardless.

Upon discovery of the unwelcomed development, William`s employees interfered. One woman approached Chavez and demanded he hand the packages over to her. He declined. The package lacked her name, he explained as he walked back to his delivery vehicle. Another individual stepped in—literally—and blocked the vehicle’s door. He too demanded the packages from Chavez. Chavez, again and for the same reason, told the man no.

Chavez threatened to call the police unless they left him alone. So they moved out of his path and allowed him to carry on with his job. The attempted delivery occurred in a cul-de-sac with access to only four houses. One house belonged to the third party and another belonged to the female who initially approached Chavez. Court documents revealed that Williams waited nearby the houses as his accomplices picked packages up. The distance between the cul-de-sac and robbery—roughly 0.2 miles— demonstrated just how closely Williams waited nearby.

(Author note: although the relevant addresses became public knowledge after the announcement, I chose not to publish the street names in the article or attached picture. However, I believed the map portrayed scale more precisely than words. The removal of street names resulted in no notable loss of comprehension).

The USPS employee encountered the first two individuals on the lower portion of the map, in the four-house cul-de-sac. At the second red dot, the one at the top of the map, Chavez reported the robbery. As a postal worker, he made frequent stops. His speed depended on how on many stops he made and how each stop took. Regardless, according to Google’s blue line, that distance equated to a four-minute walk. Less than 0.2 miles. At or before the uppermost dot, Williams and another man pulled up in a truck and blocked the USPS employee from pulling out. They exited the truck and threatened Chavez with a pistol.

The USPIS investigated and shortly thereafter arrested the man. In October 2016, Williams admitted to the following charges: one count of possession with intent to distribute, one count of conspiracy to distribute, and one count of postal robbery. Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney sentenced Williams to 100 months of incarceration and an additional three years of Federal supervision upon release.