A Georgia man was sentenced to 135 months in prison for buying and selling Tapentadol on the darkweb.
He sold Tramadol, Tapentadol, and Etizolam on the darkweb, court documents revealed.
Sheldon Kennedy, 32, of Springfield, Georgia, will spend the next 135 months in prison for Possession With Intent to Distribute Tapentadol; Use of a Communications Facility (U.S. Mail); and Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release.
The investigation, according to the criminal complaint, began in 2019:
The United States, including The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office are investigating Sheldon Kennedy for a dark web drug distribution ring. Based on prior physical surveillance, and border searches, Agents have discovered that Kennedy is shipping controlled substances through the US Mail from the Southern District of Georgia to customers throughout the United States.
“Sheldon Kennedy clearly didn’t learn his lesson the first time he went to prison as an illegal drug distributor,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “Years behind bars will protect the community from his poison.”
Kennedy had a prior conviction for selling drugs on the Silk Road, the U.S. Attorney said in a statement.
In August 2019, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into Kennedy after intercepting domestic and international packages “that appeared to be related to dark web narcotics sales,” according to Postal Inspector Thomas Plumley.
The intercepted packages listed a UPS P.O. box and a fake name as the return address. Investigators visited the UPS store where they learned that nobody under the name on the packages had rented a P.O. box at that location.
Later, USPS employees notified the Postal Inspector that the individual who had dropped off another batch of suspicious packages also had a P.O. box at a USPS location in Springfield, Georgia. A copy of the application for the P.O. box identified Kennedy as the applicant. The Postal Inspector used a USPS database to identify shipments Kennedy had received at the Springfield P.O. box. Kennedy had received multiple International Express packages, according to the complaint.
The Postal Inspection Service worked with Homeland Security Investigations to identify the contents of intercepted packages:
On September 10, 2019, HSI Special Agent Harley Snipes learned that on August 16, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at the John F. Kennedy Airport, New York seized a parcel from Singapore bearing a USPS International tracking number, addressed to Sheldon Kennedy at 180 Blackwater Way, Springfield, Georgia 31329. The parcel contained approximately 475 grams of Tramadol.
In addition, on September 3, 2019, CBP Officers seized an additional 400 grams of Tramadol in a parcel bearing USPS International tracking number LS850203864CH, addressed to Sheldon Kennedy, at 180 Blackwater Way, Springfield, Georgia, 31329. In addition, using postal service databases, I was able to locate images and tracking information of’ approximately sixteen (16) additional international parcels, from Singapore, Germany, and Switzerland, which were shipped to KENNEDY’s residence at 180 Blackwater Way, Springfield, GA 31329. These parcels are consistent in the nature of the seized parcels listed in paragraph 12. These parcels were all addressed to either, “Sheldon Kennedy or Mr. Kennedy”.
With Kennedy’s name and address, the Postal Inspector returned to the UPS store and verified that Kennedy had applied for a P.O. box at the location–the same P.O. box listed on the return address on many of the intercepted packages.
During the investigation, law enforcement seized nearly a dozen international packages addressed to Kennedy’s alias at the UPS P.O. box. Every package contained at least 500 Tramadol pills or 500 Etizolam pills. Kennedy was arrested during a traffic stop on September 16, 2019. After the arrest, law enforcement officers conducted a search of Kennedy’s home. Officers found thousands of pills, computers, an AR-style rifle, .223 ammunition, and packaging and shipping supplies.
Kennedy pleaded guilty to Possession With Intent to Distribute Tapentadol; Use of a Communications Facility (U.S. Mail); and Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon in December 2019. A federal judge sentenced Kennedy to 135 months in prison on November 13, 2020.
“This case highlights that if the mail is involved, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and its law enforcement partners will tirelessly work to track down suspects near and far, even though the perceived anonymity of the Dark Web, to bring them to justice,” said Antonio Gomez, Inspector in Charge of the Miami Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
“Criminals can’t hide from justice even on the dark web,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Kennedy’s tangled web that distributed poison, helping fuel the opioid crisis, is thankfully dismantled and I am proud of the great work done in this case by HSI and its federal, state, and local partners."