A Peoria man and a Tucson man were recently convicted for selling heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine on the dark web, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Silvester Ruelas of Peoria and Kevin Dean McCoy of Tucson were among those who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and launder proceeds from drug distribution. Two women, Peggy Gomez and Amber Worrell, also pleaded guilty to the crimes.
“Our office is committed to working closely with our agency partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute drug traffickers,” U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey said. “Hiding behind computer keyboards and using our mail system to move their drugs will not shield them from lengthy prison sentences.”
Officials said the quartet appeared online as “Iceman21,” and used recently shut down sites like AlphaBay, Hansa and Dream Market to distribute the drugs.
Between 2015 and 2017, Ruelas, McCoy, Gomez and Worrell used the U.S. Postal System to distribute those drugs from Phoenix to other locations around the country. The U.S. Postal System found parcels containing the drugs headed for Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.
To conceal their crimes, the group “used encrypted technology, sold cryptocurrency through peer-to-peer exchangers and created bank accounts for nonexistent businesses,” according to Bailey’s office.
“Drug traffickers using the dark web feel a sense of security with the anonymity to sell their poisons throughout the world,” added Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Arizona. “This investigation clearly demonstrates they aren’t safe, they aren’t anonymous and they can’t evade justice.
“DEA and our partners will relentlessly pursue criminals who prey on our citizens, no matter where they are and no matter what means they use to distribute their illicit and deadly products.”
According to Bailey’s office, the group known as “Iceman21” obtained a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XL ring; numerous gold, silver and platinum bars; and an extensive collection of firearms from their illegal activity. Law enforcement confiscated those items.
The DEA, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service were involved in the investigation. They were assisted by the Scottsdale, Mesa and Peoria police departments as part of an operation supported by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.
“This investigation once again showcases the excellent collaboration between the United States Postal Inspection Service and other law enforcement agencies,” said Jessica Wagner, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s acting inspector in charge.
“Through these partnerships, we continue working to keep our communities safe from the spread of illegal narcotics purchased through the dark web. We continue to challenge the anonymous nature of the dark web, proving time and again you are never truly anonymous.”
McCoy will serve 15 years in prison, Ruelas will serve 20 years, Worrell will serve 10 years and Gomez will serve five years.