U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour sentenced Matthew M Witters to seven years in prison for selling thousands of “doses of fentanyl” to customers throughout the United States. Witters distributed more than 2300 “fentanyl doses” under the vendor accounts “SayNoToCustoms” and “kakashisan” on Alphabay and Dream Market
According to an announcement by U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran, the investigation into Witters began after law enforcement officers found his contact information and darkweb vendor aliases during an independent investigation into drug traffickers in Oklahoma and California. Witters sold on Alphabay as “SayNoToCustoms” and as “kakashisan,” court documents revealed.
During a search at the house of a darkweb vendor in California, the United States Postal Inspection Service alerted law enforcement in Seattle that they had discovered a sales ledger on the suspect’s computer that listed Witters as a customer. The ledger had entries listing the type and amount of drug sold, the buyer’s darkweb username, and the name and address of where the package was sent.
Two of the entries included named Witters as the owner of the SayNoToCustoms vendor account.
- DEC 21 Matt Witters —1 K — sayNotoCustoms — [Redacted Address] Seattle, WA 98106-1906
- JUN 17 Matt Witters — 2 K — sayNotoCustoms [Redacted Address] Seattle, WA 98146
Investigators knew from the recovered ledger that Witters had been buying fentanyl powder and fentanyl nasal sprays from a darkweb vendor and then reselling the product. Postal Inspectors then discovered the SayNoToCustoms account on Dream Market. By the time investigators discovered the account, Witters had already “retired,” according to the profile on Dream. He resurfaced on the same account several months later.
In December 2018, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents executed a search warrant on Witters' safe deposit box at a bank in Seattle. The search led to the seizure of more than $165,000 in cash, a variety of drugs, mailing materials and a loaded Glock 27 pistol. The investigation against Witters led to the seizure of a total of $1.1 million in cryptocurrency, cash and other funds.
Law enforcement used some of Witter’s posts on Facebook about cryptocurrency as part of the information in the probable cause affidavit. In one post, Witters wrote the following in a post about losing Bitcoin after someone had phished one of his Blockchain.com accounts:
if you guys would have bought bitcoin in September when it crashed to 3kk cause china banned it (for the third time, they will be unbanning it again here soon). btc hit 8k 3 times in the last few days. I told you guys at $400, $650, $800, etc, I have the FB posts right here lol, you guys cant say you didn’t know, had a super bad week i got phished like an idiot and lost 600k bitcoin, almost offed myself, then I remembered I had 114 coins in an old blockchain wallet i forgot the pw to in may 2016.
I pestered blockchain.com, a company that offers wallets, they had told me that if I lost my recovery phrase and had second password I was SOL, but i was looking around about it online and found a post a guy nade of an email from blockchain with an attachment of all his wallet backups, I was like wtf, why shouldn’t I be able to get my old wallet backup emailed to me.
They did it after pestering them for 2 days lol, It was hard too I had to figure out how top get my private keys from the wallet it was nuts for days I sat here in the hopes this would work and last night I did it I got 114 bitcoins worth about 850k lol, sucks I got hacked but i probably never would have gotten that wallet back if I wasn’t desperate lol.
On December 18, 2018, a detention hearing against Witters was conducted in the U.S. District Court in Seattle. The court established that Witters had no place to live and issued a detention order.
On June 13, 2019, Witters pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. He also admitted that the funds seized came from selling fentanyl on Alphabay and Dream .
During Witters’ sentencing hearing on December 17, 2019, Judge Coughenour said Witters engaged in the sale of large quantities “of an extremely dangerous drug.” At the end of the hearing the Judge had sentenced Witters to seven years in prison and ordered him to forfeit the funds seized during the investigations against him.
U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said, “fentanyl traffickers, who put their profits ahead of public safety, justifiably face significant federal prison sentences. Trafficking in these substances endangers not only the end-user but innocent bystanders such as postal workers or family members who might come in contact with the highly toxic substance."
Witters sentencing coincided with USPIS’s announcement on its commitment to the fight against opioid dealers deliver drugs through mail. The announcement said the USPIS seized 594 pounds of synthetic opioids in 793 seizures from 2017-2019. There was a 747% increase in the number of domestic opioid seizures during the same period.
The steps taken by the USPIS to enhance its fight against opioid dealers include;
- Using sophisticated technology to predict patterns that the dealers may turn to after changing tactics.
- Standardizing its tracking technology and linking with its local and international partners to facilitate real-time sharing of intelligence.
- Using an automated sorting process.
- Working with local and foreign partners to ensure the data in Advance Electronic Data barcode is displayed on all inbound mails.