Cory Nicholas Skinner, a darknet drug vendor, has been sentenced to seven years in prison by a Maryland court.
He will also be subject to four years of supervision upon his release.
This is after Skinner pleaded guilty in May to conspiring to sell and distribute drugs on Dream Market under the vendor handle “DoggFood.”
Before his arrest in early 2018, Skinner was an employee of the United States Postal Service.
He first came into the limelight during the investigations of an Arkansas police officer murder case.
The priority mail that was found on the officer, shipped from Maryland, led to the discovery of two other similar priority packages that were destined for Arizona and North Carolina.
These packages contained a supply of drugs, and as expected, this sparked an investigation to be launched.
The recipients of the mails were then brought in for questioning, and it was revealed that they had purchased the drugs from Dream Market.
The vendor that made the sale was known as DoggFood, and they made their payments to the vendor via Bitcoin.
The police further discovered that the Arizona-destined package contained a supply of buprenorphine, an opioid partial agonist that’s used in treating narcotic addiction.
It carries special properties that reduce opioid cravings and help block the effects of opioids on the body, thus minimizing the negative side effects that come with withdrawal from opioid usage.
Derived from thebaine, it passes for a strong narcotic—hence it’s label as a drug that can be subjected to abuse.
The authorities carried out a fingerprint analysis on the packages to determine the sender, and the fingerprints were found to match those of one Cory Nicholas Skinner, a 33-year-old resident of Pikesville, Maryland.
It was revealed that Skinner had been distributing drugs to different people across the country.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service then decided to intercept some packages that were sent by Skinner, and they were all found to contain narcotics.
He was also known to take advantage of the mentally disabled to make deliveries at post offices in the city of Baltimore during mid-2017.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Skinner’s dealings totaled more than 97 grams of cocaine, 290 grams of heroin and 216 units of buprenorphine by January of this year.
All sales he made were through the Dream Market vendor account DoggFood.
The investigation process culminated in a police raid on Skinner’s home. They found several items including a weighing scale, a personal laptop, stamps, postal addresses as well as around $6,600 in cash. Skinner also had firearms in his possession.
The Role of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the Investigation
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service arguably played the most important role in the investigation of Skinner.
After it emerged that the deliveries were made through postal channels, the Inspection Service intercepted a large number of packages sent by Skinner, making the operation a jackpot for federal authorities.
The fact that Skinner was completely anonymous on the dark web would have made it almost impossible for him ever to be caught.
As much as the fingerprints on the parcels pointed directly at Skinner, the Postal Inspection Service’s efforts made it possible for the authorities to gather more evidence on him to make an arrest.
It was revealed by authorities that Skinner used Dream Market to sell drugs.
Started five years ago, Dream Market has grown to become among the top darknet marketplaces today in terms of popularity.
It has survived the wrath of law enforcement agencies which have seized most of its competitors over the years.
It is full of vendors that sell a range of goods and services—mostly illegal in nature.
Payments in Dream Market are made using cryptocurrencies. Three are in use to date, namely Bitcoin, Monero and Bitcoin Cash.
The market has several categories which include drugs, digital goods, services, among others.
All the vendors have ratings which reflect how they associate with their customers.
Some of the most-sold commodities on Dream Market include cannabis and digital goods.
All these have recorded above tens of thousands of dollars in sales to date. Other goods and services include hacking, jewelry, steroids, software, data, erotica and fraud.
Skinner’s Case Meets Its End
After he was arrested earlier this year, Skinner had faced charges of conspiring in the sale and distribution of drugs.
He had committed additional crimes such as illegally being in possession of firearms.
The death of the police officer in Arkansas was also found to be due to an overdose of heroin that had been purchased from the DoggFood vendor account, but Skinner was never indicted with any charges related to the death.
Skinner signed a plea agreement in May for his drug conspiracy charges.
In the end, Skinner was sentenced to serve seven years in federal prison followed by four years of supervised federal release.