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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 30, 2015

Silk Road Drug Vendor Pleads Guilty To Drug Trafficking Charges

Baltimore, Maryland – David Lawrence Handel, age 26, of Columbus, Ohio pleaded guilty yesterday to drug trafficking charges in connection with the sale of drugs via Silk Road, an online, international marketplace for users to buy and sell controlled substances, false identifications and other contraband over the Internet.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office; Acting Postal Inspector in Charge David M. McGinnis of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Washington Division; Special Agent in Charge Brian Murphy of the United States Secret Service - Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.

 According to his plea agreement, Handel contacted buyers of methylone, and other synthetic drugs via Silk Road.  Handel accepted payment electronically through Silk Road and shipped drugs via the U.S. Postal Service to customers in Maryland, throughout the United States and in foreign countries.

In 2012, federal agents in Maryland assigned to an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force made several undercover purchases of drugs, including methylone, from Handel.  Handel shipped the methylone to Maryland.

On August 21, 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a package of synthetic drugs coming from China and addressed to Handel in Columbus, Ohio.  Handel picked up the package of synthetic drugs the next day from his local post office.  Federal agents arrested Handel after leaving the post office with the drugs. Handel also had a Glock firearm strapped to his ankle.  Another firearm was seized from his car.  Agents recovered additional drugs, including over 600 grams of methylone from Handel’s apartment, and three more firearms.

At the time of his arrest, Handel confessed to being a longstanding drug trafficker on the Silk Road website.  He admitted to buying the drugs from a supplier in China, and having them shipped to him via U.S. mail.  Handel admitted to spending $4,800 on his most recent shipment from China.

Handel faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for conspiring to traffic drugs; and a minimum of five years and a maximum of life in prison for using and carrying a firearm in relation to drug trafficking.   Chief U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for May 15, 2015 at 12:00 p.m.

In a similar case, on September 5, 2014 Chief Judge Blake sentenced a former drug vendor on the Silk Road website, Jacob Theodore George IV, age 33, of Edgewood, Maryland, to six years in prison for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute drugs, including heroin.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised HSI Baltimore, DEA, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Secret Service and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Wilkinson, who is prosecuting this Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Component(s): 
Updated February 23, 2015