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Press Release

Final “Calicartel” Defendant Pleads Guilty to Dark Web Heroin, Methamphetamine, and Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Devin Shanahan, 29, of Winnetka, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine over the dark web, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. 

According to court documents, Shanahan worked with his coconspirators to create narcotics vendor accounts on various dark web marketplaces in 2018 and 2019, including accounts known as “BuxomBrunette,” “CaliCartel,” and “Playground.” Shanahan used his computing expertise to set up, troubleshoot, and help his co-conspirators operate their technical infrastructure, including encryption and shipping tools as well as cryptocurrency wallets. These vendor accounts consummated over 2,000 sales of narcotics between October 2018 and May 2019, totaling approximately 1.7 kilograms of heroin, 2.9 kilograms of cocaine, and 1.6 kilograms of methamphetamine.

This case was the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the Northern California Illicit Digital Economy (NCIDE) Task Force.  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, and includes agents from Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Sam Stefanki is prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California prosecuted a number of other defendants and co-conspirators in cases related to Shanahan’s, including the following:

  • United States v. Ian Hoffmann, No. 2:21-cr-00017-JAM, in which defendant Ian Hoffmann was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
  • United States v. Gabriel Alva, No. 2:21-cr-00178-JAM, in which defendant Gabriel Alva was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine, as well as for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
  • United States v. Catherine Stuckey, No. 2:20-cr-00044-JAM, in which defendant Catherine Stuckey was sentenced to two years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
  • United States v. George Franco, No. 2:21-cr-00244-JAM, in which defendant George Franco was sentenced to two years of probation for distributing cocaine.

Shanahan is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior United States District Court Judge John A. Mendez on October 8, 2024. Shanahan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 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.

Updated May 9, 2024