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Press Release

Norton Shores "Dark Web" Drug Dealer Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today that Michael Carlton Paiva, 30, of Norton Shores, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker for his role in a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

          After an international law enforcement operation took down the dark web marketplace Silk Road 2.0, Paiva was identified as a purchaser of a significant quantity of various amphetamines and psychedelic compounds for distribution in the Western District of Michigan, including 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ("MDMA"), 2-(4-iodo-2,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-N-(2-methoxybenzyl) ethanamine hydrochloride ("25i-NBOMe"), 4-methyl-2,5-dimethoxyamphetamine ("DOM (STP)"), N,N-dimethyltryptamine ("DMT"), lysergic acid diethylamide ("LSD"), AL-LAD, mescaline, and liquid mushrooms. The subsequent investigation revealed Paiva was ordering and importing drugs from different sources from at least 2013 until 2016. He converted cash into bitcoin in order to make purchases on the dark web. Paiva also distributed more common controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

          "Drug traffickers who believe that the dark web and cryptocurrency will provide anonymity and shield them from the rule of law are sorely mistaken," said Acting U.S. Attorney Birge. "The federal government has the tools, resources, and commitment to identify and prosecute criminals on the dark web and will continue to do so."

          "Homeland Security Investigations and our partners are at the tip of the spear in the effort against illicit activities and financial crimes associated with virtual currency systems," said Steve Francis, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Detroit. "Criminals have the false impression that their black markets activity using digital currency like Bitcoin are avoiding scrutiny. The reality is that these activities do not escape the reach of law enforcement."

          "The West Michigan Enforcement Team, HSI Grand Rapids, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have a long history of collaboration and this case is another great example of that relationship," said Detective First Lieutenant Andy Fias, WEMET Section Commander. "We value this partnership and it was successful in this investigation and others in the past. The disruption of this drug trafficking organization will have a deep impact on several West Michigan communities."

          HSI led the investigation in the district, in cooperation with WEMET. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin M. Presant prosecuted the case.


Updated March 14, 2017