Colorado Man Sentenced for Creation and Participation in Darknet Marketplace Drug Trafficking Organization
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky.— A Denver man, Joshua Cook, 27, was sentenced to 100 months in federal prison on Tuesday, by U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell, following his convictions for conspiracy to distribute drugs and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking.
According to Cook’s plea agreement, he created a darknet market drug trafficking organization, called PartyCrew, to distribute controlled substances through the U.S. Postal Service. The darknet is an overlay of the internet that is only accessible through certain software, configurations, or authorization. Access to the darknet is designed to anonymize the user, and it is generally used for illicit purposes. Marketplaces on the darknet are often used to buy and sell illicit goods and services. The PartyCrew darknet marketplace post advertised the sale of multiple controlled substances, in exchange for cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Bitcoin. Cook employed his friends and co-defendants, Haleigh and Benjamin Flanigan, who lived in Lexington, to assist him in the distribution of the controlled substances.
In their roles in the conspiracy, the Flanigans fulfilled orders for controlled substances, by packaging and mailing them through the U.S. mail to customers across the United States. Haleigh Flanigan received payment for her services in cryptocurrencies, which she then attempted to conceal through the use of cryptocurrency anonymizing tools.
Benjamin Flanigan also pled guilty to drug distribution and conspiracy to commit drug distribution; he was sentenced to 18 months. Haleigh Flanigan pled guilty to conspiracy to commit drug distribution and conspiracy to commit money laundering; she was sentenced to 48 months.
The investigation and prosecution also resulted in the total dismantling of the PartyCrew drug trafficking organization.
Under federal law, Cook must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence; and upon his release from prison, he will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years.
Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Cincinnati Field Office, jointly announced the sentences.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Dieruf and Emily Greenfield.
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CONTACT: Gabrielle Dudgeon
PHONE: (859) 685-4887
Updated November 29, 2023