A Merced, California, couple admitted selling cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana through the darkweb. The couple pleaded guilty to a violation of the Travel Act, using the mail and internet to distribute controlled substances, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
Jabari Monson, 32, and Saudia Monson, 39, admitted running at least three darkweb vendor accounts on Dream Market and other darkweb marketplaces from July 2018 through January 2019. The accounts targeted as part of the investigation were “Best Buy Meds,” “Trap Mart,” and “House Of Dank.”
The charges stemmed from an investigation led by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy task force–the task force with their own hidden service where they announced the arrest of “Best Buy Meds,” “Trap Mart,” and “House Of Dank.” According to Jason Bauwens, a Postal Inspector with the United States Postal Inspection Service, the investigation into the Monsons began in early 2018 afer employees at the Merced Post Office reported suspicious activity to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS). According to the employees at the Post Office, “an African American couple regularly came into the MPO and mailed an unusually large number of domestic and international parcels.” The handwritten labels on the packages and cash-only transactions also contributed to the report made by staff at the Post Office.
Law enforcement learned that the couple had dropped off 14 packages at the Mercer Post Office.
On March 8, 2018, suspecting the parcels contained non-mailable items, specifically narcotics, law enforcement conducted a border search on two of the 14 internationally bound parcels. One of the parcels was destined to Ireland and the other was destined to the Philippines. In the parcel destined to Ireland, a small amount of marijuana was located (14 grams gross weight) and in the parcel destined for the Philippines, numerous unique edibles containing a strong odor of marijuana were located (378 grams gross weight). The suspected marijuana infused edibles were very unique in nature, and appeared to be some sort of sample pack containing eight different types of homemade cookies and brownies. After the search of the two parcels, the remaining 12 parcels were placed back into the mail stream.
After learning what the couple had been shipping to customers across the world, law enforcement searched Dream Market for a vendor with products matching the products law enforcement had intercepted. Investigators identified the Dream vendor BestBuyMeds. Law enforcement identified the PGP key with the user ID “firstname.lastname@example.org” as the key associated with BesyBuyMeds.
The investigators connected the BestBuyMeds account to the Dream vendor account HouseofDank and then HouseofDank2.0 through the PGP key associated with the account. In this case, all three accounts used the same PGP key.
On August 23, 2018, law enforcement placed an order from vendor HouseofDank2.0 on Dream Market for an eighth of methamphetamine and an eighth of marijuana. The undercover officers gave the vendor an address under their control. Investigators learned where the package had entered the mail stream and what time the suspect had dropped the package off at the Post Office. They then pulled security footage identified an unidentified female who had also dropped off ten other packages when she had dropped off the one ordered by law enforcement. The surveillance footage gave investigators a view of the suspect’s vehicle–a gold BMW X5 SUV. Surveillance conducted at a later date linked the vehicle to a license plate number and that license plate number to Saudia Monson. Records showed that Saudia Monson lived at a home in Mercer with her husband, Jabari Monson.
Law enforcement conducted a number of undercover purchases from the Monson’s vendors accounts. On November 28, 2018, law enforcement noticed that all of the the Monsons had stopped selling drugs through the Best Buy Meds account and both House Of Dank accounts. They found a new account on Dream Market with similar listings and similar photos (and possibly identical photos for some listings). They noticed HouseOfDank2.0 had no listings but had been actively signing into the account.
On December 6, 2018, law enforcement sent a private message to the Houseofdank2.0 vendor account, inquiring about the potential restocking of the marijuana edibles.
Houseofdank2.0 responded to the undercover message stating “yes I will have edibles on my new page `Trapmart'.” Law enforcement placed an undercover purchase for methamphetamine from the vendor Trapmart. They pulled surveillance from the Post Office where the package had entered the mail stream and identified Jabari Monson. He had dropped off a number of packages alongside the one containing the meth ordered by law enforcement.
The rest of the investigation and case unfolded as expected.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 19 in front of U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez.
- Jabari Monson faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison, a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, and a $5 million fine.
- Saudia Monson faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine