Source: US State of California
Defendant apprehended as part of a nationwide crackdown on Darknet illicit market sites
SAN FRANCISCO – Brian Gutierrez-Villasenor was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for possessing with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and transporting funds to promote unlawful activity announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Rafael Nuñez. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Susan Illston, U.S. Senior District Judge.
Gutierrez-Villasenor, 27, of San Francisco, pleaded guilty to the charges on November 13, 2018. According to his guilty plea, between 2014 and May of 2018, Gutierrez-Villasenor distributed cocaine and methamphetamine for a Darknet vendor site called JetSetLife. JetSetLife operated on multiple Darknet marketplaces and used encryption technology to avoid interception and monitoring of its communications and transactions. Gutierrez-Villasenor admitted that he provided his contact information to the operators of JetSetLife so they could wire him money from abroad to promote drug distribution. Gutierrez-Villasenor delivered requested drug types and quantities to JetSetLife customers by mailing the drugs through the U.S. Postal Service. For example, on March 23, 2015, an individual in Australia sent Gutierrez-Villasenor a $5,160 wire transfer to distribute drugs for JetSetLife. Gutierrez-Villasenor retrieved the payment in San Francisco and used the money to buy drugs and supplies to fulfill JetSetLife customer orders, and to 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 September 17, 2018, Gutierrez-Villasenor was charged by information with one count of possessing with intent to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(viii), and one count of transporting monetary instruments or funds to promote unlawful activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(2)(A) and 2. Gutierrez-Villasenor pleaded guilty to both counts.
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.
This prosecution was the result of a coordinated national operation that used the first nationwide undercover action to target vendors of illicit goods on the Darknet. The extensive operation, which culminated in four weeks of more than 100 enforcement actions around the country, resulted in the following:
- Federal arrests of more than 30 Darknet vendors who engaged in tens of thousands of sales of illicit goods;
- Execution of 70 search warrants, resulting in the seizure of 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;
- Seizure of more than 100 firearms, including handguns, assault rifles, and a grenade launcher;
- Seizure of five vehicles that were purchased with illicit proceeds and/or used to facilitate criminal activity;
- Seizure of more than $3.6 million in U.S. currency and gold bars;
- Seizure of nearly 2,000 Bitcoins and other virtual currencies, with an approximate value of more than $20 million;
- Confiscation of 15 pill presses, which are used to create illegal synthetic opioids; and
- Seizure of Bitcoin mining devices, computer equipment, and vacuum sealers.
Additional information on the operation can be obtained here.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Gilbert is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Andy Ding. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the DEA, FBI, HSI, and USPIS. This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a focused multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force investigating and prosecuting the most significant drug trafficking organizations throughout the United States by leveraging the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.