Jason Keith Arnold, 46, of Chandler, Arizona, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and methamphetamine on Dream Market under the accounts “TheSickness” and “SicknessVersion2.”
Arnold, according to court documents, sold at least 4,000 grams of heroin and at least 750 grams of methamphetamine to Dream Market customers. Arnold, along with co-defendants David White, 50, and Alicia McCoy, 31, had completed more than 3,000 transactions on the marketplace.
The investigation was led by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy Task Force. The Task Force has had SicknessVersion2 on their “Arrested Vendor” list since the very first NCIDETF article.
The investigation into Arnold began in early 2018 when investigators conducted their first undercover purchase of “pure gunpowder heroin (uncut)” from SicknessVersion2 on Dream Market.
Arnold or someone acting on Arnold’s behalf shipped the package on May 25
On or about June 12, 2018, the parcel was delivered to the USPIS-controlled location and was opened by case agents. There was no sender name listed on the parcel. Inside the parcel were four packages of “Haribo” Gold gummy bears. Concealed within one of the packages of gummy bears was a small silver foil pouch marked with the number “5.” Inside the foil pouch was a small clear Ziploc baggie which contained a black tar like substance. Case agents field tested the black tar like substance. The black tar like substance field tested positive for heroin. The weight of the heroin, including the baggie was determined to be 6 grams.
Investigators conducted a total of four undercover purchases of heroin from SicknessVersion2. Postal Inspectors with the United States Postal Inspection Service identified the shipping label on the first package as part of a bulk order of shipping labels from the Post Office website. To identify Arnold, Postal Inspectors needed only a single tracking number associated with one of the packages of heroin he had shipped to federal agents.
USPS Shipping Labels
Postal Inspectors determined the tracking number was part of an online purchase of 100 prepaid USPS Priority Mail shipping labels purchased on May 15, 2018. The customer had used the username “jasoncka23.” The customer had accessed the USPS website from the I.P. address 188.8.131.52. And the customer had used the name Jason Arnold and had provided the Postal Service with his real address in Chandler, Arizona.
Of the 100 labels purchased on May 15, 98 had entered the mail stream. Of the 98 labels, 95 had full and/or partial destination address location information. Of these 95, there were approximately 86 different mailing destination addresses throughout the United States. All of the packages had entered the mail stream from in or around the same part of Arizona.
Records from the Postal Service connected Arnold to the purchase of 1,000 labels from approximately April 9, 2018 to November 2 , 2018. Some of those labels had the same or similar return addresses as the packages received by the investigators. In addition to the above USPS purchases made by Arnold, investigators identified Arnold’s USPS “ClicknShip” account. Between May 11, 2018 and June 1 5, 2018, the account had shipped more than 130 packages internationally to addresses in France, Canada, Bangladesh, and other countries.
Investigators learned about the co-conspirators after a USPS employee at a Post Office in Gilbert, Arizona, had flagged a suspicious purchase by an individual later identified as David White. White had purchased $100 worth of “Sleeping Bear Dunes Priority Express stamps.” The same USPS employee, later that day, noticed at least ten packages in the blue collection boxes that had the same Sleeping Bear Dunes stamps. The packages were addressed to various U.S. cities and had fictional return addresses.
White later returned to the same Post Office and purchased $300 of the same stamps. The USPS employee noted the license plate of the Dodge Charger that had dropped White off at the Post Office and later had picked him up. The vehicle belonged to the mother of Arnold’s girlfriend, according to investigators who saw surveillance footage from the Post Office.
Later, in December 26, 2018, the USPS employee in Arizona advised agents that a female customer had purchased the same Sleeping Bear Dunes Express stamps and then left the Post Office in the same Dodge Charger used by White. They later identified the female as Alicia McCoy. The vehicle later returned to the Post Office and White dropped several packages into a USPS collection box. The USPS employee pulled all the mail from the collection box and set White’s packages aside for investigators.
Coinbase and Gmail
Investigators obtained records from Coinbase for accounts associated with Arnold as well as an account linked to McCoy and one linked to White. The records from Coinbase included all the usual information, including the email address Arnold had used with his USPS account. Arnold also self-identified his bank account nickname in Coinbase as “Wells Fargo — Sickness.” Arnold had traded $143,000 worth of Bitcoin using Coinbase. Both White and McCoy had sold about $50,000 worth of Bitcoin.
Google also provided investigators with records associated with Arnold’s Gmail address. Arnold had regularly accessed the Gmail account from the same I.P. address that he had used to purchase labels from the USPS website.
On December 28, 2018, case agents conducted surveillance at the Chandler Springs Post Office. They observed as McCoy parked the black Charger at the Post Office and entered the building. Case agents followed McCoy inside the building and witnessed her purchase ten Priority Mail stamps and twenty Express Mail for a total purchase of $561.00. McCoy then returned to the vehicle and put on latex gloves. After spending six minutes in the vehicle, McCoy circled back through the parking lot and stuffed Express Mail envelopes into the blue collection box. She was still wearing the latex gloves.
On February 5, 2019, case agents observed Arnold driving his vehicle (identified as “subject vehicle 2” ) and White driving his vehicle (“subject vehicle 4”). Both vehicles were driving in tandem and arrived at a US post office in Chandler, Arizona. Arnold dropped packages into the collection boxes outside of the Post Office and then parked in front of the building. White parked behind Arnold and then entered the Post Office. He left minutes later with dozens of USPS mailers.
Arnold was arrested on February 20, 2019.
According to U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott, charges against Arnold’s co-conspirators are still pending. Arnold faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. He is scheduled for sentencing on May 11.