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Kentucky Man Sentenced for Selling Meth on the Darkweb

A counterfeit Adderall vendor from Kentucky was sentenced to 11 years in prison for drug trafficking, money laundering, and owning firearms as a prohibited person.

Acting United States Attorney Michael A. Bennett for the Western District of Kentucky announced that John Frank Naber III, 21, was sentenced by United States District Court by United States District Judge Benjamin J. Beaton to 132 months in prison. In December 2020, Naber pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of firearms by a prohibited person, and conspiracy to launder drug proceeds.

A picture of Naber in his booking photo | Oldham County Detention Center

Naber in his booking photo | Oldham County Detention Center

Joshua Smith, a Postal Inspector with the United States Postal Investigation Service (USPIS), filed a criminal complaint in early 2019 that identified Naber as a darkweb drug vendor. The investigation into Naber involved several agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations Service (HSI), USPIS, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Kentucky State Police. The criminal complaint–while lacking in specific information–describes an investigation that relied on many conventional investigative techniques, such as local informants and surveillance.

Authorities monitored suspicious packages associated with Naber for several months prior to the filing of the criminal complaint. “Investigators also gathered information about Naber’s financial transactions, physical movements, daily habits, and associations that further corroborated their suspicions that Naber was involved in drug trafficking activities.” Investigators gathered statements from witnesses that accused Naber of selling drugs locally as well as through a vendor account on an unspecified darkweb marketplace. Witnesses told investigators that Naber sold an assortment of drugs but primarily distributed counterfeit Adderall to buyers throughout the United States.

A picture of Naber and his mother attempted to launder money using Coinbase.

Naber and his mother attempted to launder money using Coinbase.

During the investigation, law enforcement obtained two search warrants for physical properties associated with Naber. The first search resulted in the discovery and seizure of the items listed below:

Over 1000 grams of suspected methamphetamine stored in a shed on the property.

  • Numerous USPS parcels;
  • Numerous firearms, including in the shed where the 1000 grams of methamphetamine was found and in NABER’s room with other drugs and paraphernalia;
  • A trailer containing an automated pill press and large containers of orange powder believed to be raw ingredients to be pressed into pills;
  • A large quantity of clear plastic bags containing suspected counterfeit Adderall;
  • Marijuana;
  • Marijuana derived products;
  • Large amounts of U.S. currency:
    • Counterfeit U.S. currency.

The second search resulted in the discovery and seizure of the following items:

  • A Pringles can with a false bottom container with suspected MDMA packaged in multiple bindles;
  • A seed to a cryptocurrency wallet, i.e. passphrases for access;
  • Digital scales;
  • A chemical frequently utilized as a cutting agent in the manufacturing of narcotics.

Investigators accessed Naber’s financial records and learned that he had participated in a money-laundering conspiracy with the assistance of his mother. They layered Naber’s funds in an effort to conceal its true source. According to the criminal complaint, Naber and his mother used Coinbase.com, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, in an attempt to further launder the proceeds of the drug trafficking conspiracy.

Additionally, the criminal complaint accuses Naber of structuring financial transactions. Succesful structuring requires transactions that avoid the appearance of obvious structuring. The transactions listed in the criminal complaint ranged from between $9,000 and $9,900 and looked exactly like the examples of poorly executed structuring attempts. Naber did not enter a guilty plea for the structuring charges, however.

A picture of Naber forgot how to structure.

Naber forgot how to structure.

In addition to serving time in prison, Naber must also forfeit the following:

Real property located at 929 Brentwood Ave Louisville, KY 40026;

  • Real property located at 10415 West Highway 42, Goshen, KY 40026;
  • $326,703.00 in United States Currency;
  • $200,000.00 in Bitcoin;
  • Desert Eagle semi-automatic handgun, bearing serial number DK0028427;
  • Beretta pistol, bearing serial number SZ019127;
  • Kimber Micro 9 pistol, bearing serial number PB0013339;
  • American Tactical 1911 pistol, bearing serial number GI114154; and
  • CZ 805 BREN assault rifle, bearing the serial number 233208.