GREENBELT, Md. – U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel sentenced Russell Ramseur, age 44, of Largo, Maryland, to seven years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute at least one kilogram of heroin and for possession with intent to distribute heroin.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division; and Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Division.
According to Ramseur’s plea agreement, from at least April 2014 through December 2015, Ramseur was registered as a vendor on a Darknet marketplace where he advertised the sale of heroin to the general public under the username “BESTMAN365.” On the Darknet marketplace, Ramseur accepted orders for heroin and received payments from customers in Bitcoin. Ramseur and his co-conspirators packaged and shipped heroin from Capitol Heights, Maryland, to customers throughout the United States.
Throughout the course of the investigation, law enforcement intercepted or received through the mail at least nine packages containing heroin.
On December 14, 2015, law enforcement executed a federal search warrant at the residence of one of Ramseur’s associates in Greenbelt, Maryland. During the search, law enforcement seized $13,000 in cash from a safe, which Ramseur admits was the proceeds of his heroin distribution.
The Darknet marketplace where Ramseur advertised the sale of heroin allowed customers to rate vendors. In 2015, investigators compared listings for heroin by BESTMAN365 with subsequent customer reviews. Based on that comparison and the length of the drug trafficking conspiracy, Ramseur admitted that it was reasonably foreseeable that Ramseur and his co-conspirators distributed between one kilogram and three kilograms of heroin through the Darknet marketplace.
This case was prosecuted utilizing resources from the Dark Market and Digital Currency Crimes (DMDCC) Task Force. The DMDCC Task Force is a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI – Baltimore, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Baltimore County Police Department, targeting the use of dark net marketplaces and digital currencies to facilitate criminal activities. The past several years have witnessed a significant increase in the use of the internet (both the clear net and dark net) and digital currencies to facilitate, for example, the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics and firearms, computer technologies (including hacking tools), and Personal Identifiable Information (PII). In response to this rising threat, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI, and their partners formed the DMDCC Task Force to facilitate stronger collaboration among law enforcement partners combatting these crimes.
This case is also part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Acting United States Attorney Erek L. Barron praised the FBI, USPIS, and DEA for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam K. Ake and Kristi N. O’Malley who prosecuted the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.