December 7, 2022

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Darknet drug distributor sent to prison

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HOUSTON – A 42-year-old man residing in Houston has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of conspiracy to distribute cocaine as a Darknet vendor, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Dennis Escobar aka Choppa pleaded guilty Dec. 22, 2021, to engaging in a conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake ordered Escobar to serve 150 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by five years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Lake noted Escobar’s criminal history and his role in the offense.

Escobar and others engaged in a large-scale conspiracy to distribute various narcotics including cocaine via Darknet marketplaces. Escobar and co-conspirators also used the U.S. Postal Service to send narcotics to buyers who paid the group using cryptocurrency.   

The investigation was the result of a law enforcement effort to identify individuals in the Houston area selling and distributing narcotics via DarkNet marketplaces.   

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Food and Drug Administration conducted the investigation with assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration and Houston Police Department.

The plea is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation dubbed Operation Be That Guy. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States. It uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Corley prosecuted the case.

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