A programmer turned drug dealer turned government informant has been sentenced to five years in prison after being caught up in the Silk Road shutdown.
Steven Sadler, 40, was arrested at his home in Bellevue, Washington on July 31, 2013 by members of the Department of Homeland Security. Police found over a kilogram of cocaine and heroin each, along with 400 grams of methamphetamine and a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol hidden under his bed.
Sadler pleaded guilty to selling nearly a million dollars of narcotics on the now-shuttered Silk Road online bazaar and was given the jail term as well as four years' probation.
After his arrest, Sadler worked with the authorities until the arrest a few months later of Ross Ulbricht, who has been charged and later found guilty of being in charge of the website under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts.
"This defendant thought he could use the internet to spread the poison of illegal drugs far and wide," said Acting US Attorney Annette Hayes.
"We will not allow internet connectivity to be blatantly misused to harm public safety. Moreover, as this and other prosecutions demonstrate, attempts to hide in the "dark net" will not succeed."
Prosecutors claimed that Sadler, operating under the username NOD, had being selling up to $70,000 of cocaine a month from the dark website and had shifted 8.25 pounds of cocaine, three pounds of heroin and four ounces of methamphetamine over his career as a drug dealer.
"He blew through all that money using drugs and going to strip clubs," said his attorney Michael Filipovic, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
Sadler had been making a good living as a computer programmer for many years, pulling in an annual salary of $180,000, the court was told. But three years ago he began to use drugs heavily and turned to the Silk Road to fund his habits and became one of the top one per cent of dealers on the site.
Sadler recruited his 22 year-old girlfriend Jenna White to package and deliver the drugs for him but a postal worker noted her car's license plate details after dropping off a package, which led investigators to Sadler. She also pled guilty and will be sentenced next month.
"Sadler transformed himself into one of the top Silk Road drug distributors and profited from the destruction of untold lives," said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) in Seattle.
"Criminals who operate digital black markets and those who trade their illicit goods on them believe they are above the law. They are mistaken. HSI and its partners are dedicating considerable resources to infiltrating and dismantling underground Internet sites such as the former Silk Road." ®