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Investigative Press Release
Issuing Office: Sacramento CA
Category: Narcotics

Dark Web Traffickers of Heroin, Methamphetamine, and Cocaine Prosecuted

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announces a sentencing and a guilty plea in two cases the United States Attorney’s Office is prosecuting involving drug trafficking on the dark web.

Sentence: United States v. Ian Hoffmann, No. 2:21-cr-017-JAM

Ian Hoffmann, 44, of Bell Canyon, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. According to court documents, Hoffmann ran multiple narcotics vendor accounts on various dark web marketplaces, including “CaliCartel” and “BuxomBrunette” on the Dream marketplace, “Playground” on the Silk Road 3.1 marketplace, and “GambinoCrimeFamily” on the Wall Street Market marketplace. Hoffmann was a prolific dark web drug trafficker, completing more than 2,000 drug sales in a six-month period between October 2018 and April 2019 alone. Hoffmann accepted cryptocurrency in exchange for his narcotics and sent the drugs he sold using the U.S. Postal Service.

Federal law enforcement agents surveilled Hoffmann as he mailed dozens of packages suspected to contain narcotics on various dates in 2019. Agents subsequently executed a search warrant at Hoffmann’s residence and seized approximately 5 pounds of heroin, 14 pounds of cocaine, 40 pounds of methamphetamine, two loaded firearms, three boxes of ammunition, a bulletproof vest, more than a quarter of a million dollars in cash, a money-counting machine, several scales, and packaging materials.

Plea Agreement: United States v. Gabriel Alva, No. 2:21-cr-178-JAM

Gabriel Alva, 31, of Winnetka, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine; and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of this drug trafficking offense. According to court documents, Alva and his co-conspirators ran multiple drug vendor accounts on various dark web contraband marketplaces, including “Diablow” on the Silk Road 3.1 marketplace, “RaiseAppeals” on the Dream marketplace, and “RaisedByDiablow” on the Nightmare marketplace. Alva’s dark web vendor pages offered crystal methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and other narcotics for sale. Alva accepted payment in cryptocurrency for the narcotics and converted approximately $1.3 million worth of various cryptocurrencies into cash. In May 2019, law enforcement agents seized nearly 2 kilograms of heroin, more than 2 kilograms of cocaine, and nearly 24 kilograms of methamphetamine from Alva’s residence. Agents also seized a Remington shotgun and a Smith & Wesson assault rifle, which Alva admitted that he possessed to further his dark web drug trafficking operation.

These cases are the product of investigations by the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force, which includes agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The NCIDE Task Force is a federal task force focused on targeting all forms of illicit dark web and cryptocurrency activity in the Eastern District of California and beyond. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Stefanki is prosecuting both cases.

Alva is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on Sept. 26, 2023. Alva faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $10 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.