Cory Nicholas Skinner, a former postal employee who pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of narcotics, was sentenced by a Maryland court to seven years in federal prison, followed by four years of supervised release.
Skinner, who went by the pseudonym DoggFood on the dark web, was destined to spend the rest of his life in prison, but narrowly escaped the expected maximum prison term of 40 years by agreeing to a plea deal with the government.
He was accused of shipping approximately 2.8 grams of heroin to Brunswick County, North Carolina and of shipping orders of buprenorphine (an opioid) to Arizona.
Further investigation found out that Skinner was responsible for shipping an estimated 97.5 grams of cocaine, 290.5 grams of heroin and 216 units of buprenorphine by the beginning of this year via the dark web marketplace Dream Market.
Robert K. Hur, the U.S Attorney for the District of Maryland, announced the sentence in conjunction with Eric Shen, head of the Washington division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Hur commended the U.S Postal Inspection Service’s Washington Division, which led the investigations with assistance from other agencies such as the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the National Headquarters Cyber Crimes Unit.
Why, Then, Are the Markets Still up and Running?
Skinner becomes just but another statistic in the war on illicit online goods by the U.S. government agencies.
Shutting down online marketplaces and arresting their operators may seem to have disrupted the underground the markets in short-term, but research has shown that it’s business as usual as users have moved to other markets.
No new markets have been able to take over the places of the once-reigning AlphaBay and Hansa, but one thing is clear—marketplaces have become decentralized without clear indications who the administrators are.
In the past, the U.S. government has generally targeted the founders of those sites, rather than the individual vendors on the online sites.
However, the U.S. government has seemingly decided to change tactics.
Federal prosecutors are now making vendors of illicit goods their priority rather than the administrators of the online marketplaces, with the recent takedown seeing over 35 vendors arrested in a nationwide undercover operation involving at least five federal agencies and Homeland Security.
What next? These crackdowns have become unprecedented, but the communities who use the darknet markets have shown resilience and will soldier on because they can adapt to changes.
Experts have predicted that the government agencies will continue with their strategies to try and police the dark web.
Therefore, more individuals like Cory Skinner will have dates with court judges and be guests of federal prisons.
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