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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

Friday, June 1, 2018

Raleigh Man Sentenced for Manufacturing Xanax in Storage Unit and Several Other Charges

RALEIGH – The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert J. Higdon, Jr., announced that today in federal court, Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, III sentenced MATTHEW LEE YENSAN, 25, of Raleigh, to 78 months of imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervised release. 

January 23, 2018, YENSAN pled guilty to a five-count Criminal Information, specifically Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Alprazolam, a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, Distribution of a Quantity of Alprazolam by Means of the Internet, Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, Engaging in a Monetary Transaction in Property Derived From Specified Unlawful Activity, and International Money Laundering.

In July 2017, DEA agents in Raleigh received information that YENSAN was mass producing Xanax by utilizing pill presses, and selling them on the Dark Net.  The Dark Net is a section of the internet that is accessed through a special browser required to locate hidden websites.  The browser obfuscates the user’s identity, making it a haven for illegal activity, to include drug distribution.  Through continued investigation, agents identified YENSAN’S Raleigh residence, as well as a nearby storage unit being utilized by YENSAN.

Based upon their investigation, agents served a search warrant on September 12, 2017 of YENSAN’S residence and recovered the following items:  Four loaded firearms, $269,068, multiple Bitcoin wallets, 480 grams of marijuana and other items associated with illegal drug distribution.

On that same date, agents seized the following items from YENSAN’S storage unit, where YENSAN had set up a clandestine pill manufacturing plant: approximately 80,000 dosage unit of Xanax; the ingredients needed to manufacture approximately 300,000 dosage units of Xanax to include two to three pounds of Alprazolam; a computer, the browser of which was open to the Dark Net; and multiple items associated with illegal manufacturing and distribution.  Later agents used computer forensic tools to discover that YENSAN possessed approximately $1,489,235.000 in virtual currency. 

The investigation uncovered that YENSAN also engaged in money laundering using U.S. currency derived from his drug trafficking activities.  YENSAN sent $1,200 in U.S. currency to the Postal Savings Bank of China in Yongkang, China, to purchase pill presses and Xanax molds in an act of international money laundering.  

The defendant possessed multiple firearms in connection with his drug trafficking activities and maintained a premises for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance.  He obstructed justice by attempting to procure another person to conceal evidence material to the investigation.  Lastly, the defendant distributed a controlled substance through mass-marketing by means of an interactive computer service, by utilizing a vendor page on the Dark Net to advertise and sell quantities of Xanax.

The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the Postal Inspection Service.  

Drug Trafficking
Updated June 1, 2018