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Press Release

Hickory Man Pleads Guilty To Trafficking Narcotics On The Dark Web & Agrees To Forfeit Virtual Currency

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray announced today that Travis Justin Stout, 35, of Hickory, N.C., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David S. Cayer and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute narcotics on the Dark Web.

Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas, David M. McGinnis, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Chief Thurman Whisnant the Hickory Police Department join U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.

According to information contained in filed court documents and today’s plea hearing, in 2016, law enforcement began investigating Stout for trafficking narcotics in the greater Hickory area.  Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement determined that Stout was purchasing narcotics, including MDMA (Ecstasy), methamphetamine, amphetamine, and marijuana, on the Dark Web, using various forms of cryptocurrency.  Court records show that Stout used the Dark Web to traffic narcotics throughout the United States and internationally, including on the AlphaBay Market, and stored the drug proceeds in multiple virtual currency wallets. Stout was arrested after he received a dark web drug delivery.  Law enforcement seized his computer and recovered cryptocurrency drug proceeds associated with these crimes, which Stout has agreed to forfeit to the U.S. Government.

The drug trafficking conspiracy charge carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison, and a $1,000,000 fine.  The possession with intent to distribute charge also carries a maximum prison term of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.  A sentencing date for Stout has not been set.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray thanked HSI in Charlotte, USPIS, and the Hickory Police Department for their investigation on this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sanjeev Bhasker and Seth Johnson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated December 17, 2019

Drug Trafficking