The Indianapolis Star on 8/10/17 by Vic Ryckaert
A former manager of an Indianapolis nightclub was also the drug kingpin of an operation that traded in bitcoin and sold cocaine and heroin through the darknet, federal authorities said Wednesday.
Pierre Burnett Jr., former manager of Epic Ultra Lounge on the northeast side, was sentenced to more than 15½ years in prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine, distribution of heroin and cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering, U.S. Attorney Joshua J. Minkler announced Wednesday.
“Gone are the days when criminals could cloak their drug trafficking activity behind the anonymity of the dark web,” Minkler said in a statement.
“Our office is committed to ferreting out and prosecuting individuals engaged in cybercrime in all its many forms.”
Burnett, 44, bought cocaine and heroin from sources in Mexico and distributed the drugs to dealers in Ohio and Indiana, Minkler’s office said.
He distributed at least 37 pounds of heroin and 55 pounds of cocaine during the course of the conspiracy, authorities said in a news release.
Burnett, also known as “Doe,” supplied cocaine and heroin to Lee Gray of Camby, who in turn sold the drugs for the digital currency bitcoin on the Silk Road black market website and later on other darknet sites, authorities said.
The darknet is a hidden portion of the Internet that is only available through specialized browsers. It’s not really a single entity but instead thousands of sites, most encrypted and all available only to those with information about how to find them and how to access them.
Gray shipped the drugs through the U.S. Postal Service to customers across the country and laundered bitcoins through foreign exchange services that transferred cash into Gray’s multiple bank accounts, authorities said.
Gray pleaded guilty Dec. 22, 2015, to conspiring to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin and money laundering. He will be sentenced Oct. 4.
Burnett also supplied drugs to Alan Duncan, also known as “Al Gore,” who dealt the drugs in Ohio. Duncan was sentenced to 12½ years in federal prison, Minkler’s office said.