How the Feds Caught Matthew Yensan in Two Months
Matthew Yensan, an alprazolam vendor from Raleigh, North Carolina, just received a 78-month prison sentence for distributing producing alprazolam and selling it on the darknet, dealing with the proceeds of a crime, and having several firearms while committing said crime. The DEA’s investigation into the 25-year-old involved some bizarre characters in unrelated court cases, weird neighbors, and a handful of unknowns.
Originally posted on caleb.cx, reposted here with permission.
Gun Charges in New York
The Criminal Complaint revealed that, in reality, law enforcement did little to nothing at all. Confidential informants provided most of the information. In fact, no law enforcement agency investigated Yensan until the arrest of Patrick Allen, a 24-year-old from New York who had worked with Matthew Yensan for years. In January 2017, Allen, according to court documents, was caught in shooting automatic weapons in the woods in Charleston, New York. The gun charges led to drug charges. According to a source close to the case, Allen gave prosecutors information on Yensan and the prosecutors, in return, agreed to drop an 11 counts of assorted drug charges.
Allen and his friend Jonathan Derbyshire brought a Bushmaster “AR-15,” a Glock 26, several pistols of an undisclosed make, body armor, and assorted controlled substances into some woods in the middle of the night. At one in the morning, someone called the police with a “shots fired” complaint.
When the police arrived, Derbyshire fled. Allen, dressed in body armor, turned and pointed a Glock 26 at the police. The police shot him four times; three shots entered his leg and one hit his vest. The police took him to the hospital and captured Derbyshire. The police later executed a search warrant at Allen’s home on Kreischer Street in Staten Island, New York. They found “more than 2,000 oxcycodone and alprazolam pills, 16 ounces of marijuana, ammunition and drug packing material,” court document revealed.
Allen was hit with a 23-count indictment for menacing, illegally wearing a bulletproof vest, weapons possession, and several drug charges. The drug charges stemmed from the search of Allen’s house. He was also under investigation for buying marijuana from Colorado and shipping it to New York for resale. “T]he warrant did not sufficiently describe the premises to be searched,” a filing from Allen’s attorney read. A New York judge later dropped all eleven drug charges against Allen. Derbyshire faced 15 different gun, drug, and related charges. He cut a deal, pleaded guilty to only one gun charge, and received sentence of one year in jail.
A source close to Yensan and the case revealed that Allen was Yensan’s partner and friend. I will leave out some background to preserve the privacy of others involved. However, the two had known each other for years. According to the source, Allen provided investigators with a statement on Yensan’s drug trafficking operation in North Carolina. In many proffered deals where a suspect provides information on a more valuable target, the agreement between prosecutors and the defendant is not complete until the information from the suspect leads to a conviction (and/or sentencing). Yensan was sentenced in June 2018. Allen’s drug charges were dropped in August 2018.
The DEA in Charlotte
DEA Agent Matthew Pearson learned from a DEA Tactical Diversion investigator in Charlotte, North Carolina, that Matthew Yensan was “mass producing Xanax on several pill presses and selling the pills on the Dark Net.” According to the criminal complaint written by Agent Pearson, the information came from a DEA Source of Information (SOI).
A source close to Yensan provided me with the North Carolina informant was using at the time of Yensan’s arrest, but the person’s real name remains unknown (to me). This informant, the source said, had known Yensan for a long time and had helped Yensan since the Silk Road era. This fits the timeline provided by the DEA Agent who stated that “evidence suggest[ed] that YENSAN has been dealing illegal narcotics since 2011.
In 2013, Yensan posted on Facebook about using Bitstamp, a cryptocurrency exchange.
July 2017: The North Carolina informant told the DEA Tactical Diversion investigator in Charlotte that Yensan had been selling pills on the darknet. The informant stated that he/she (the informant is a he) had helped move Yensan multiple pill presses to storage unit 165 in Raleigh located at 404 Gorman Street, Raleigh, NC
According to my source, the informant had helped Yensan repair jammed presses and had effectively mentored Yensan for years. By July 2017, Yensan had finished selling Xanax on the darkweb. The source told me that Yensan had informed the DEA SOI that he was selling his equipment and needed a piece of equipment fixed. The DEA SOI met with Yensan, stayed at his house, and later went to the storage facility where Yensan had been keeping the pill presses.
The informant later relayed this information to his DEA contact.
“Through surveillance and investigative methods it was determined that Yensan resides at 8709 Hidden View Court, Raleigh, NC.Yensan has been observed at Ample Storage located at 404 Gorman Street, Raleigh, NC entering storage unit #165,” court documents revealed.
The DEA Conducts Surveillance
August 9, 2017: DEA Special Agent Boucher observed Yensan arrive at the storage unit in a Chevrolet Colorado, one of the vehicles registered to him, and retrieve a bag from unit number 165.
August 22, 2017: Wake County Sheriff’s Officers stopped two individuals who had just left Yensan’s neighborhood for a traffic violation. Both were arrested for possession with intent to manufacture/sell/distribute heroin. They were also in possession of approximately two grams of marijuana. Both sources stated that they had just been to 8709 Hidden View Court, Raleigh NC, and purchased the narcotics from “Matt and Dylan.” At the time, Yensan was dating Dylan Cummins. The two are now married.
The sources additionally stated that Dylan had bragged that her boyfriend Matt was ordering several pounds of marijuana at a time using the Internet. A few days later while researching this Hidden View Court address, SA Boucher met YENSAN’ s neighbor, who wanted authorities to know that the YENSAN’s house frequently received suspicious deliveries. The neighbor agreed to host a camera aimed at YENSAN’s house.
September 9, 2017: The United States Postal Inspection Service seized a package with tracking number 9505 5116 3779 7250 1610 33, that was addressed to Y Vending, 8709 Hidden View Ct, Raleigh NC (Yensan’s former address). Postal Inspectors seized this package after the DEA had asked them to flag packages headed for Yensan’s address.
“Y Vending” is a real company owned by Matthew Yensan.
September 11, 2017: Magistrate Judge James E. Gates signed a federal search warrant authorizing Postal Inspector Dustin Holland to open the package after a K-9 unit hit on the package. The Postal Inspector found three pounds of marijuana.
The DEA Raids Yensan’s House
September 12, 2017: Magistrate Judge James E. Gates signed a search warrant for Yensan’s house. The warrant was signed in connection with Yensan’s attempted possesion of marijuana. Later that day, agents attempted to deliver the package containing marijuana, but Yensan refused delivery of the package.
He then fled out of the back door of the house and agents had to chase him down. Inside the house, agents found:
- 12 pounds of marijuana;
- approximately two pounds of shatter;
- a THC based wax;
- prescription medication not prescribed to YENSAN;
- $269,068.00 stored in a locked safe;
- a Glock 27;
- a Smith & Wesson .357;
- a Colt King Cobra .357;
- a MP-522lr;
- a Trezor wallet with 182.7462777 Bitcoin;
- they also found the recovery seed in Yensan’s safe.
- a digital wallet with 1,000 Litecoin;
- a South Carolina ID with Yensan’s face under someone else’s name;
- digital evidence indicating that Yensan had been selling on the darknet;
- and bulk postage.
They also seized his Chevrolet Colorado and Chevrolet Corvette. Yensan told agents that all forearms had been legally purchased by him, and that he had a concealed carry permit.
The DEA Raids the Storage Unit
The same judge signed a search warrant for the storage unit. Yensan denied that he had a storage unit even after being shown video evidence that allegedl placed Yensan at the storage unit. At the storage unit, the police found:
- approximately 400 pounds of Xanax precursors;
- approximately 5000 pills of pressed Xanax;
- approximately 100 US Postal packaged boxes filled with Xanax pills;
- three electronic pill presses;
- two electronic industrial drug mixers;
- and a medium sized box with hundreds of preprinted USP delivery label.Digital Evidence
September 15, 2017: Magistrate Judge James E. Gates signed a search warrant for Yensan’s electronic devices that included computers, cellphones, USB drives, and SD cards.
The searches yielded one damning piece of evidence: the private keys used by the Alphabay Xanax dealer “LEXIE” or “Lexie.”
Gulty Plea and Sentencing
In early 2018, Yensan pleaded guilty to the following charges:
- possession with the intent to distribute a quantity of alprazolam;
- distribution of a quantity of alprazolam by means of the internet;
- possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime;
- conspiracy to conceal transactions with a financial institution with drug proceeds over $10,000;
- and international money laundering.
In court, a North Carolina judge passed down a 78-month prison sentence and ordered a forfeiture of effectively everything Yensan owned. The list:
- a Glock 27;
- a .40 pistol (S/N BCL 403);
- a Smith & Wesson .357 (S/N CMM 2086);
- a Colt King Cobra .357 (S/N EC3715);
- a MP-522lr, (S/NA363147);
- all accompanying ammunition;
- three pill presses;
- 1,000 Litecoin with an approximate value at the time of seizure of $53,000;
- $269,068.00 in cash;
- 182.7462777 Bitcoin in a Trezor wallet;
- 2014 Chevrolet Colorado, VIN 1GCGTCE39F1250141;
- 2014 Chevrolet Corvette VIN 1G1YM2D76F5108670;
- 2 Jet Skis VIN YDV06461A414, and VIN YDV41775B515,
- one Jet Ski trailer, VIN 4TCSM112XHHL40505
Here is the Matthew Yensan Criminal Complaint and Matthew Yensan Indictment (Seem to have lost this. Will re-upload).
Here is the affidavit used in support of the Trezor warrant.
And a forum post about his Corvette.
The DEA had associated “Y Vending LLC” with Yensan’s drug trafficking on Alphabay market. He registered the company in 2013. The source confirmed that Yensan had been selling or otherwise involved in drug trafficking on the darkweb since Silk Road.
OPSEC-wise, Yensan did a lot of things by the book. Rarely do package recipients turn down packages when law enforcement conducts a controlled delivery. Yet, that did not matter since a judge had already signed a search warrant for Yensan’s house. The DEA just wanted signed proof that Yensan had ordered drugs from a source likely on the darkweb. They did not get that proof nor did they get a marijuana-related conviction. He also frequently posted on Reddit about Trezor, Litecoin, Bitcoin, and DMT. The DEA may not have found that information as it was under an alias, but it did not take me long to find.
A source told me that two confidential informants provided a total of three statements used to convict Yensan. The source believes that the statement used in the probable cause affidavit for the search warrant may have been fabricated as it was not used except for obtaining a search warrant. It was not even mentioned otherwise.
?: If Patrick Allen was under investigation for buying weed from someone in Colorado, having it shipped to New York, and then reselling it, could the Postal Inspectors have seized a package of marijuana sent to Yensan by Allen at the DEA’s instruction?