In a success for U.S. law enforcement agencies against the online drug trade, a man in Iowa has been arrested, charged and sentenced to 10 years in prison for ordering drugs over the dark web.
The major part of his dealings involved methamphetamine distribution.
The now-convicted man from Vinton, William Kirk Vanatti, purchased other types of drugs, including marijuana and MDMA, as well.
What must have further nailed his case is the team from the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who investigated the case and found illegal arms and homemade explosives too in his possession.
Darknet Drug Operation
Vanatti, a 36-year-old resident of Vinton was found to have used the dark web to operate his drug business without leaving a trace of his identity.
But the physical delivery of the drugs was being done through the standard courier service.
As it happens with such cases, the address of the sender was fake. The drug dealers use this ploy to write fake address in the “Sender” column and the “Recipient” is invariably a post office box number that is exchanged at the time of the deal.
The one buying the drugs would know the details, approach the post box and collect the parcel.
No one will know who sent it or who collected. But once law enforcement officers get a tip of suspicious activity, they start monitoring the packets.
It takes a lot of investigative work to reach that point.
But there is someone in the ecosystem that provides the information.
In most cases, it could be the staff working within the postal or courier service to lodge a complaint.
Sometimes, it could be just an anonymous report on the illegal drug trafficking.
Federal agents have also started disguising themselves as postal workers to intercept packages firsthand.
Court Orders 10 Years Jail Time & 5 Years Supervised Release
Law enforcement agents did a thorough job of investigating Vanatti’s crimes and convincing the judge.
The sentence included a 10-year term in prison followed by a period of supervision after release.
According to a statement from the Department of Justice, the prosecution established that Vanatti used to order the drugs—which consisted of almost 100% pure methamphetamine—from a source in California and on receipt would proceed to plan to sell the supply to others.
A few packages meant to be delivered to him were intercepted by the investigators.
Once they were sure of his direct involvement, his house and car were searched, at which point the investigators discovered a handgun along with homemade explosives.
As mentioned, these pieces of evidence go a long way in establishing the guilt of the suspect, and the courts take cognizance of such evidence as the intent to cause bodily harm to others.
In the case of Vanatti, he might not have used the explosives but merely having them in his possession was sufficient to make his case weak.
According to court documents, Vanatti submitted a guilty plea in June to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Despite this, there was little leniency in the sentencing.