Baltimore, Maryland – Jason Lawrence Green, age 40, of Salisbury, Maryland, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin, which he sold on the dark web (a part of the internet that is only accessible by using specific software the disguises the true location and identity of computers using the software to communicate). The guilty plea was entered on October 12, 2021.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; and Dorchester County Sheriff James W. Phillips, Jr.
According to Green’s guilty plea, from at least 2018 through October 2019, Green used an apartment and a storage unit in Salisbury, Maryland to sell and distribute heroin on the dark web and using encrypted email services.
As detailed in the plea agreement, Green initially operated as “CaliClaire” on the Dream Market, a dark web marketplace for controlled substances and other illegal goods. After Dream Market closed in April 2019, Green sold heroin through encrypted email services under the usernames “CaliClaire” and “clairebear2.” Green sent the heroin to buyers throughout the country using the U.S. mail (USPS).
For example, on June 20 and August 28, 2018, an undercover investigator purchased one gram of heroin from CaliClaire’s vendor site on Dream Market for approximately $200 in bitcoin. The next day, law enforcement surveilled Green as he drove a white BMW from his home to the post office in Ocean City, Maryland and Salisbury, respectively, and deposited parcels in a mailbox. After the BMW drove away, investigators searched the mailbox and recovered the parcel addressed to the address provided to CaliClaire by the undercover investigator. Each parcel contained one gram of a substance that field-tested positive for heroin. Investigators also recovered two additional parcels that Green had placed in the mailbox in Salisbury. After obtaining search warrants, investigators found that the parcels contained 3.5 and 4.5 grams, respectively, of a tan powdery substance that appeared to be heroin.
CaliClaire was inactive on Dream Market from September 7, 2018 until December 4, 2018—the same time that Green was in custody after being arrested by Ocean City police on unrelated state charges. Green was released on electronic monitoring on December 4, 2018. Six days later, CaliClaire posted an update on Dream Market claiming that the vendor had taken a “break” due to the loss in value of bitcoin, followed by another update on December 21, 2018 stating that heroin would be available for purchase again starting on December 25, 2018. Dream Market was shut down sometime between January and April 2019.
In June and September 2019, law enforcement seized two USPS parcels (later found to contain heroin) being shipped to addresses in Fairfax County, Virginia and Washington County, Oregon. Investigators contacted the intended recipients and learned that they were former CaliClaire customers on Dream Market. The Virginia recipient told investigators that CaliClaire had resumed selling heroin directly to customers under the CaliClaire username on Encrypted Email Service A. Investigators learned from the Oregon customer that CaliClaire was also selling heroin directly to customers under the username “clairebear2” on Encrypted Email Service B.
As detailed in the plea agreement, in September and October 2019, investigators conducted two undercover purchases from clairebear2 on Encrypted Mail Service B, each time obtaining 2 grams of heroin for $300 in bitcoin. Investigators surveilled Green following each undercover purchase. After the first purchase, investigators observed Green delivering parcels to a drive-up mailbox in Delaware. The mailbox where Green deposited the parcel was searched and the parcel addressed to the undercover officer was found. It contained three grams of a substance that field-tested positive for heroin. After the second purchase, Green was seen accessing a storage unit he was renting and later that day depositing multiple parcels in a mailbox in Berlin, Maryland. The parcel addressed to the undercover officer was delivered to investigators a few days later and contained a clear zip-top bag holding approximately 2.5 grams of a substance that field-tested positive for heroin.
Search warrants were executed at Green’s residence and storage unit on October 16, 2019. Law enforcement recovered a total of 77 grams of heroin; approximately 41 grams of cocaine; approximately five grams of MDA, a controlled substance often sold as “ecstasy”; approximately 33 grams of amphetamine; more than 1.4 kilograms of marijuana, with all but 48 grams packaged in heat sealed bags; 334 grams of cutting agent; and drug paraphernalia, including numerous digital scales, a money counter, and packaging materials. In addition, investigators seized six firearms, including a .40 caliber pistol which had been reported stolen from an officer with the Federal Air Marshal Service; a Level 3A body armor vest; ammunition; $13,796 in cash; mailing materials; a laptop computer and several cellular phones, including an iPhone.
A subsequent forensic analysis of Green’s iPhone found data of Green’s use of Encrypted Mail Service B and a mobile cryptocurrency storage application which showed that before the phone was seized, the wallet held approximately 15.97 bitcoin, which at that time was worth approximately $130,000. A forensic analysis of the laptop revealed, among other things, internet searches related to the addresses of customers; the names and addresses of approximately 56 individuals who appeared in either return or recipient addresses on parcels seized during the investigation and found to contain heroin, including undercover purchases; email addresses for Encrypted Email Service A and B; a password to Encrypted Email Service B; USPS tracking numbers, including for the undercover parcels; and approximately 44 PDF files containing USPS shipping labels from nearly every heroin parcel seized during the investigation.
Green and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Green will be sentenced to five years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for February 11, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.
This case was prosecuted utilizing resources from the Dark Market and Digital Currency Crimes (DMDCC) Task Force. The DMDCC Task Force is a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI – Baltimore, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Baltimore County Police Department, targeting the use of dark net marketplaces and digital currencies to facilitate criminal activities. The past several years have witnessed a significant increase in the use of the internet (both the clear net and dark net) and digital currencies to facilitate, for example, the illegal sale and distribution of narcotics and firearms, computer technologies (including hacking tools), and Personal Identifiable Information (PII). In response to this rising threat, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, HSI, and their partners formed the DMDCC Task Force to facilitate stronger collaboration among law enforcement partners combatting these crimes.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Maryland State Police, and the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey J. Izant and Christopher M. Rigali, who are prosecuting the case.